Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

Given the swirling, complex, synergistic, and increasingly dire threats to the ocean (from climate change, to overfishing, to pollution), and the smaller and smaller investments the federal government is making in solutions, it is critical to effectively leverage philanthropic dollars. One of the most promising things that happened last year for ocean conservation was the...

In this time of unnatural disasters, international conflict, and social injustice, we still need to work on ocean conservation. A healthy ocean is critical to food security, economies, cultures, and (thank you, phytoplankton) the very oxygen to breathe. Although it barely made headlines, 2017 saw international diplomats focus on ocean conservation – on solutions to the challenges...

By Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Jennifer Jacquet   What’s the deal with overfishing? What’s at stake? And what can we do about it? We teamed up with the good folks at TEDEd on this animated short to explain. Punchline: Wild fish simply can’t reproduce as fast as 8 billion people can eat them. So we...

It’s been three months since the March for Science, when over a million people, in over 600 cities, with almost 300 partner organizations took to the streets to champion science for the common good. It was an incredible day. From the stage at the DC march, I looked out on the crowd – well over...

For many of us jaded New Yorkers, the United Nations is merely a reason that traffic is periodically terrible on the Upper East Side, when world leaders gather. Perhaps now, after the US Administration has announced it will take steps to pull the United States out of the UN’s Paris Agreement on climate change, we...

This TED talk was developed while I was in residence at TED headquarters in New York City. Watch it here, and the transcript and slides are is below. _______________ When I was five, my parents took me from Brooklyn, NY to Key West, Florida. They taught me to swim, and showed me my first a...

From wars, to politics, to the deaths of eminent artists, 2016 was a year many people were eager to see end. It was also another record breaking year for the dangerous warming of our planet. Yet, despite that thick layer of doom, humanity came together in inspiring ways – for water protection, for refugees, for...

We have a lot of data about the ocean, but much of it is in obscure databases – unintegrated, unanalyzed, and largely inaccessible for the public. There is so much we could do with all that information if it was easy to visualize and interpret. At our fingertips, we could have alerts about the presence...

Given the election, it seems wise to relinquish expectations of US federal leadership on ocean or climate policy. Our anti-science (among other deeply concerning antis) president-elect and his appointees have sent clear signals about their disregard for our environment and the ethos of sustainability. Yet, a healthy ocean is critical to food security, a stable...

Human well-being and human rights are inextricably tied to the health of the ocean, yet ocean conservation work is often isolated. Last month, as the United National General Assembly focused on tackling the grand challenges represented by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), both the ocean goal (aka Goal 14, “Life Under Water”) and me, as...

The U.S. Department of State is set to host the third annual Our Ocean conference this week. This gathering of political leaders, philanthropists, scientists, diplomats, NGO executives, filmmakers, and private sector leaders, will be focused on the themes of marine protected areas, climate change, sustainable fisheries, and marine pollution. Many of us in the ocean...

Overfishing, climate change, habitat destruction, and pollution remain major threats to the world’s ocean. But amidst all that there is some seriously good ocean conservation news worth celebrating. So, to continue the tradition started last year with listing 14 Ocean Conservation Wins of 2014, here’s a rundown for 2015 that will hopefully fill you with...

Local conservation efforts are important to restoring and protecting coral reefs. However, if we don’t halt climate change those efforts will not be enough to save them. That’s why marine biologists and ocean lovers have their eyes on the COP 21 climate negotiations in Paris this week. Last year, I co-authored a New York Times...

Ocean conservation is hard. You fight the challenges of “out of sight, out of mind,” of largely unregulated high seas, and of waters so vast people find it hard to believe humans could actually overfish it (or as the saying goes in Jamaica, “fish can’t done”). The ocean is indeed in deep deep trouble due...

To be effective, marine conservation must be based on rigorous and targeted science. The large and growing threats to ocean ecosystems — overfishing, climate change, pollution, and habitat destruction — coupled with the limited scientific capacity of most small island states make science-based management not only an imperative, but also a challenge. Here’s one part...