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.
Whitehouse provided insights into his and the Senate Oceans Caucus’s policy efforts to protect marine and coastal environments.
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.