Last week, Reece Pacheco, the Executive Director of WSL PURE -- a non-profit focused on ocean health and conservation -- attended the Our Ocean Conference, an annual gathering of world leaders, scientists, NGO's, corporations, and activists all coming together to announce and report on commitments to protect our ocean.
Being the first time PURE has attended the event, we caught up with Reece to get his take on the conference and how PURE is doing its part.
You've just got back from Our Ocean Conference, what is it?
The conference was started five years ago under Secretary of State John Kerry, and has become a powerful event in the ocean conservation space given the collaborative and competitive nature of the public commitments made each year towards ocean health.
What were the themes this year?
The main conference theme was Our Ocean, Our Legacy; focusing on the importance of understanding how our actions, today, will impact future generations. I think it's particularly relevant for us as surfers.
We all love surfing and the ocean so much, and I think that as we get older, we realize how important it is to leave behind healthy oceans, waves and beaches for our kids, and grandkids, and so on. When put into perspective like that, it really makes you think about your actions in the present.
How does WSL fit into this?
WSL PURE focuses directly on three of the six areas of action at Our Ocean. The six areas of action are: marine protected areas, climate change, sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, sustainable blue economy and maritime security. PURE works directly on plastic pollution, climate change, and conservation, so there are touchpoints across the board. I was there to learn from and collaborate with our direct and indirect partners working on these issues.
There were some inspirational people there, who stood out?
Former Secretary of State John Kerry is always there, and really deserves the credit for putting this whole thing in motion. The legendary Dr. Sylvia Earle -- a.k.a. "Her Deepness" -- was there, of course, giving a speech on the state of our oceans. She's logged as much time underwater as anyone, and just has such an incredible passion, still at 83 years old.
And on the other end of the age spectrum, there were incredible young ocean advocates at the Our Ocean Youth Summit, specifically our partners at Bye Bye Plastic Bags - Melati and Isabel Wijsen. In typical fashion, Melati rallied the plenary floor to great applause with their Komitmen campaign commitment.
If there is one messages from the world's most dedicated, educated and passionate people and organizations in this area, what is it?
Firstly, there's a constant message from this space: "The ocean is in really bad shape, but, it is resilient. And if we provide protection and support it will bounce back."
This is so important. It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the bad news, but this conference helps us all refocus on what we can do, and most importantly, what we can do together. For me, that was a major takeaway. While many organizations and companies all jump on board to help protect the ocean, it's important that we collaborate.
That we know our expertise, focus on executing within our specific sectors, engage each other as stakeholders, and play our role -- as big or as small as it may be -- in the bigger effort to protect our ocean now, and for all future generations.
PURE partners in attendance:
-The 5 Gyres Institute
-Take 3 For The Sea
-Save The Waves Coalition
-Bye Bye Plastic Bags