Ocean Activists Raise Profile of Marine Conservation
DALLAS (June 12, 2019) – EarthxOcean explored the role of oceans in our lives with both an Inland Ocean Action Summit and the inaugural Island Resilience Forum at the ninth annual EarthX in Dallas. Bringing together global island leaders, champions from the United Nations, and ocean activists, EarthxOcean helped raise the profile of marine conservation as a topic of global scope and significance.
At the Rachel Carson Banquet: Celebrating Our Oceans and Marine Life, EarthxOcean welcomed Fabien Cousteau, son of Jean-Michel Cousteau and grandson of pioneering aquanaut, ocean conservationist, and documentarian Jacques Cousteau. He was joined by Captain Paul Watson founder of the Sea Shepherd, as well as Rudy Reyes and Jim Ritterhoff, founders of Force Blue.
“There are unsung heroes that are not with us today,” said Cousteau at the event. “Those working day in and day out in the farthest corners of the world, those trying to teach our children how to take better care of our life support system – this little oasis of space we call Planet Earth.”
The Inland Action Ocean Summit convened at Fair Park, with U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) offering the opening remarks on the ocean and the heartland. Speakers discussed how to make the health of the ocean a national issue and the importance of speaking to the broadest number of people possible with Fabien Cousteau; Ben Lecomte, long distance ocean swimmer; and Danni Washington, TV host of Ocean Explorer.
The importance of the inland ocean movement was discussed on a panel with Margo Pellegrino of Paddle4Blue; Kelly Wright, chapter lead for the Wyoming Inland Ocean Coalition; and John Armor, director of National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Sanctuaries. Another panel on upstream pollution and its impact on the ocean involved Iowa farmer Seth Watkins of Pinhook Farm; Dr. Jeremy Jackson, marine biologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography; and Dr. Nancy Rabalais, marine ecologist and “Dead Zone” researcher. Inland ocean issues through 2020 were explored on a panel with John Hocevar of Greenpeace on Plastic Pollution and Raleigh Hoke of the Gulf Restoration Network and Healthy Gulf.
Building a blue print for the 2020 election was addressed in various breakout sessions. How to make your legislative leaders ocean champions was discussed by Jenna Valente of the Healthy Ocean Coalition; Taylor Shedd, Inland Ocean Coalition policy manager; and Cambria Bartlett of Heirs to Our Ocean. Another session on inland youth and student organizing involved Zehra Cheatham, president of the University of Colorado; Vicki Nichols Goldstein, student chapter lead of the Inland Ocean Coalition; and Freya, Caecilia, and Jens Isenhart of Kentucky Heirs to Our Ocean. Finally, David Helvarg, executive director of Blue Frontier; Nikki Caputo, media co-chair of the March for the Ocean; and Eleanor Kerlow, senior communications advisor for Blue Frontier tackled building for 2019 Ocean Day, March for the Ocean, and the Blue/Green New Deal.
The Island Resilience Forum brought together island leaders and champions from the U.N. and around the world to tackle the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. It focused on the development of strategic national energy roadmaps and actionable, fundable projects. The inaugural meeting brought together United Nations’ Ambassadors from Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, Kingdom of Tonga, the Independent State of Samoa, and a delegation from Sint Maarten, led by the Minister of Justice overseeing national recovery and resilience. Other speakers included leading ocean conservationists, philanthropic champions, scientists, academic leaders, visionary filmmakers, and environmental organizations from around the globe. At the event, the Independent State of Samoa announced its intent to transition to clean, resilient energy generation.
Earthx2019 drew more than 177,000 attendees during three days of exhibitions, a film festival, music, entertainment, learning experiences, discussions, forums, and conferences. After Earthx2019, EarthX announced three early stage start-ups focused on cleantech were awarded a collective $300,000 at the EarthX E-Capital Summit, tripling the initial award offering of $100,000. Earthx2020 will be held April 24 – 26, 2020 in Dallas.