National Geographic Convenes Ocean Conservation Public Policy Forum
Features National Geographic Explorer-In-Residence Dr. Enric Sala, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and National Geographic Society President and CEO Gary E. Knell
Yesterday, National Geographic Society President and CEO Gary E. Knell convened the Mapping the World Public Policy Dialogue on Ocean Conservation. The forum, held at the Library of Congress, featured National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Enric Sala and U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in a robust discussion about the challenges facing the world’s oceans as well as how to solve them. Participants included representatives from the U.S. Department of State, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, congressional staff and other stakeholder groups.
Covering 71 percent of the Earth, supplying at least half of its oxygen, regulating the global climate, and providing access to seafood and recreational activities, the ocean is the planet’s life support system. However, chronic overfishing, coral reef bleaching and other major issues are leaving this ecosystem and global resource increasingly at risk.
During the forum, Sala, executive director of National Geographic Society’s Pristine Seas project, spoke about his team’s latest successes as they seek to explore and help protect the last wild places in the ocean, inspiring the creation of protected areas where marine life can thrive — while ensuring effective management for years to come.
[The issue] seems overwhelming … but there are actually clear solutions. At National Geographic, we decided to focus on something that we could help have an impact on using our expertise in expeditions, research and media.
Whitehouse provided insights into his and the Senate Oceans Caucus’s policy efforts to protect marine and coastal environments.
The Oceans Caucus is bipartisan, more than one third of the Senate is a member, and we have pushed through four treaties on pirate fishing, the port states measures enabling legislation, and the Save Our Seas Act — the first piece of marine plastic debris legislation the Senate has ever done — all by unanimous consent.
In his opening remarks, Knell said, “Our goal is to help play a role in advancing the conversation and to serve as a resource for leaders as they develop new solutions to protect our world’s oceans and shape policies that will have a lasting impact.” He lauded the work done by Dr. Sala and Senator Whitehouse in their “pursuit of protecting and preserving our oceans” and concluded by telling policymakers and staff in attendance that National Geographic “looks forward to working with [them] for years to come.”
The forum on ocean conservation was the second in the National Geographic Mapping the World Public Policy Dialogue Forum Series. On May 3, 2017, National Geographic hosted the first forum in the series – the Mapping the World Public Policy Dialogue Forum on Wildlife Trafficking. During the dialogue, Knell convened a conversation with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce and National Geographic Explorer and journalist Bryan Christy about the inextricable ties between wildlife trafficking and national security.
The National Geographic Society is a leading nonprofit that invests in bold people and transformative ideas in the fields of exploration, scientific research, storytelling and education. We support educators to ensure that the next generation is armed with geographic knowledge and global understanding. We aspire to create a community of change, advancing key insights about our planet and probing some of the most pressing scientific questions of our time. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.org.
About the Mapping the World Public Policy Dialogue
The National Geographic Mapping the World Public Policy Dialogue brings National Geographic Explorers together with high-ranking officials in the new administration and leaders in Congress. The ongoing public policy forum series will create a dialogue and space where facts can be discussed and solutions developed, focusing through National Geographic’s three lenses of human and physical geography: (1) Wildlife & Wild Places, (2) Our Changing Planet, and (3) The Human Journey. Learn more about the Dialogue at natgeoforums.org.