Sylvia Earle and IUCN Invite World Leaders to Celebrate and Extend Ocean Protection

05 October 2009 | News story

Today legendary underwater explorer and ocean ambassador Sylvia Earle teamed up with IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas in a historic move to send individual letters to 106 world leaders inviting them to join Sylvia in her wish to better protect the world’s oceans.

Watch exclusive coverage of this event online at The Underwater Channel.

Sylvia Earle is one of three recipients of the coveted 2009 TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Award which grants awardees a ‘wish to change the world’. Sylvia’s one wish is to establish more ‘hope spots’ – Marine Protected Areas – to support ocean life, people and the natural unseen systems on which our day-to-day lives depend.


The idea of writing these letters is stimulated by the fact that some leaders have already stepped-up to champion ocean protection, making dramatic and significant announcements that have resulted in a measurable increase in the area of sea protected. These countries include the USA, France, South Africa, Australia, and the Coral Triangle Initiative nations (Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands).


“I am delighted to be directly connecting to these leaders who really can make a difference and who by their actions can quickly improve how we protect our ocean. In spring next year we will have a major celebration of my ‘wish’ and I very much hope we can show new progress by highlighting globally those leaders who have made the latest commitments, and show everyone what they as individuals are doing for the oceans,” Sylvia Earle said. “Given the critical range of pressures on the seas there has never been a time like this when we have needed to act in such decisive ways and connect ocean issues to the broader public. By taking new actions as individuals, world leaders can achieve both those goals in one go and also leave a personal legacy from which we will all benefit in future years,” she added.


Co-signing the letters is well known British biologist and ocean conservationist, and Marine Vice Chair of the World Commission on Protected Areas, Dan Laffoley. “Most nations of the world have already pledged through the Convention on Biological Diversity and the 2002 Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development to use networks of Marine Protected Areas to help safeguard the blue heart of our planet” he said. “I am delighted that we are working with Sylvia Earle in this way to provide that process with a significant positive boost in 2010”.


Carl Gustaf Lundin, Head of IUCN’s Global Marine Programme added that “The ocean is our life support system and we are seeing more and more evidence of the deterioration of habitats and species as a direct result of our daily activities. But there is cause for hope. In recent years we have witnessed impressive pledges from around the world to step up the protection of the ocean. These personal leadership commitments have been crucial in moving things and putting the plight of the ocean on the international agenda. “


Each of the individually written and signed letters was sent out today, and by April next year it is hoped that new commitments made by leaders will be highlighted and celebrated as part of a TED Ocean event. The seven-day TED conference will take place on a ship in the Galapagos Islands. Speakers, all focused on the oceans, will range from marine scientists and ocean explorers to musicians and artists to environmental activists. All talks will be streamed live to the world for free. The ultimate goal is to have policy makers and citizens alike understand the necessary action steps needed to create more marine protected areas and to engender the conviction to take them.


Watch Sylvia and Dan as they sign the letters and discuss their inspiration behind this initiative and what they hope they will achieve courtesy of The Underwater Channel:


For Video Embed: of the signing go to: http://uwcwidgets.blogspot.com/2009/10/sylvia-earles-letters-to-worlds-leaders.html


For Video Embed: about the oceans and UWC go to: http://babelgumilan.blogspot.com/2009/07/sylvia-earls.html