Aerial Photo of a Coast


sharing and inspiring ideas for ocean solutions

Ocean Optimism:
Yes there are success stories, how to create more and at scale?

February 5, 2021 at 2:00 PM EST (New York Time)

Nancy Knowlton

Nancy Knowlton

Sant Chair for Marine Science Emerita, Smithsonian Institution
Member, US National Academy of Sciences

Dr. Nancy Knowlton is a coral reef biologist who has spent much of her career with the Smithsonian, first at the Tropical Research Institute in Panama and then at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. She was also a professor at Yale and the founding director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She is the author of Citizens of the Sea and former Editor-in-Chief of the Smithsonian’s Ocean Portal. She also helped launch #OceanOptimism, the Earth Optimism Summits, and Ocean Visions. You can follow her on Twitter at @SeaCitizens.

Talk Synopsis & Video Recording

I’ve spent more than a decade promoting the idea that ocean problems are huge but not insuperable. The initial inspiration came from graduate students in a program we likened to medical school for the ocean – if medical students focus on cures, why were our students spending so much time on ocean obituaries? There’s now been a marked shift in focus from doom and gloom to solutions, and the number of success stories continues to climb. But we need more, bigger and faster solutions. I’ll use a few examples to explore what might be needed to get there.

Breakout Group Discussions

Each group pick a problem and explore what the biggest challenges are to making progress. Examples of challenges are: stimulating new ideas/approaches, early-stage or implementation-stage financial support, convincing initial stakeholders to adopt a solution, spreading the word, systematic obstacles such as social inertia and disincentives.
How much do we know about what the real obstacles are?