Our Ocean, Our Future
It is a beautiful Indian Summer day in Miami. The time between the end of summer and beginning of fall. No, it is not cool outside like I imagine it might be in New England, but the skies are blue and cloudless and the sun is bright. It is, I suppose, a perfect day to jump in the pool or go to the beach, but given what has been an amazing week, I feel compelled to share a few words and pictures about the Our Ocean Summit that I was privileged to attend last week in Washington D.C.
This was the third Our Ocean Summit – the first being in Washington two years ago, the second being in Chile last year – and these have become important global events focused on protecting our oceans from pollution, illegal fishing, and the impact global warming and our climate have on our planet’s oceans. The conference is designed to mobilize advocates and actors in government, private society, and elsewhere to take action to protect our marine environment. More than 20 countries attended the Our Ocean Conference and announced the creation of 40 significant new marine protected areas, totaling nearly 460,000 square miles of ocean. To be able to participate in this important work was an amazing experience, but what was most amazing is what was accomplished at this year’s conference.
Over 120 ocean conservation projects were announced during this year’s conference, including nearly two billion dollars in financial commitments to protect more than two million square kilometers in new or expanded marine environments. During the conference, for example, President Obama announced the creation of The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. This monument will protect nearly 5,000 square miles of marine ecosystem with unique geological features including underwater canyons that are deeper than the Grand Canyon and an environment that is home to some of the world’s most endangered and rare species including sperm, fin, sei whales, and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.
Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument Location
To watch a video from the 2016 Our Ocean Conference about how climate change has effected our planet, as well as what has been accomplished during the Our Ocean conferences, click here!
Here is a gallery of pictures from my adventures at the Our Ocean Conference and Capitol Hill:
Thank you to the U.S. State Department and Secretary Kerry for hosting this year’s event, as well as Georgetown University and the Kennedy Center where many of the events that I attended were located. Thanks to the U.S. Capitol and the many Representatives and Senators who I spoke to for their concern over our oceans, including the impact that global warming and sea level rise is having on South Florida.
I want to especially thank Philippe and Ashlan Cousteau, as well as Stacy, Allie, and Mia from EarthEcho for their invitation and hosting myself and the rest of the EarthEcho Youth Leadership Council. It was an amazing first live gathering of the Council and incredible evidence of what we can accomplish together.
Lastly, I want to thank my school, Palmer Trinity, for allowing me to attend this conference and especially thank Mr. Chapman, Dr. Regalado, and Mrs. Paschick for their support. I would also be remiss to not thank my mom for travelling with me and being the best travel companion a girl could ever have.
If you are a student or someone young at heart, let me end by saying that all of us have a voice and that you can make an impact in anything that you are passionate about. So whether it is the ocean, the environment, or some other topic, do not ever be afraid to speak up, speak out, and become involved because together we can make the world better for future generations.