The 2020 Youth Ocean Conservation Summit celebrated a decade of youth leadership for the ocean! This year’s Summit united over 350 youth and adults from around the world for two days and equipped participants with the tools needed to develop innovative, solutions-oriented ocean conservation projects to implement in their local communities. This 10th anniversary Summit, the largest to date, was hosted virtually in partnership with Mote Marine Laboratory. The Summit provided an opportunity for a global audience of young conservation leaders and mentors to connect– creating a unique collaborative learning environment to foster new ideas to fuel a youth movement to protect our blue planet.
The Summit kicked off on Friday, December 4 with the premiere of a new film by Running Wild Media highlighting the impact of the Summit program over the past decade. Special guests, ocean conservationist and marine policy advocate, Wendy Benchley, OCEARCH Founding Chairman and Expedition Leader, Chris Fischer, Director of the Chicago Zoological Society's Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, Dr. Randy Wells, and renowned marine life artist, Wyland, joined YOCS alumni for an impactful conversation on the need for ocean conservation action in the decade ahead and the critical role youth leadership plays in this work.
Saturday’s Summit kicked off with an inspiring keynote from explorer, filmmaker, and environmental advocate, Philippe Cousteau. Presentations from YOCS alumni, from across the country, provided inspiration and ideas to our global audience of participants as they prepared to tackle the challenges facing our ocean environment. Through our digital action planning session, first time participants brainstormed and developed conservation project plans with support from their peers and mentors. Returning attendees explored the world of ocean conservation careers with an inspiring panel of guests. Throughout the remainder of the day, attendees took part in workshops on topics including filmmaking and communication, project development, storytelling, fundraising, climate change, political advocacy, coral reef restoration, community-based conservation, plastic pollution, leadership development and more! An all-star panel of our former YOCS keynote speakers – including Wendy Benchley, Chris Fischer, Jennifer Gray, Julie Henry, Dr. Ellen Prager, and Julie Scardina connected with participants to brainstorm ideas to take their conservation projects to the next level. Attendees closed out the day by joining a series of networking rooms to build connections with leading ocean conservation organizations and their peers.
As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit, we reflect on the over 3,100 young conservation leaders from around the world who have been equipped with the tools to lead impactful, solutions-oriented ocean conservation projects through 45 Summits in 13 cities - each event driven by teams of youth in partnership with incredible conservation organizations. Through this work, we have built a global community of young leaders, and provided support to bring diverse conservation projects to life through a mini-grant program that has provided 165 grants to directly support young conservation leaders. This impact has been made possible through an incredible network of partner organizations, program sponsors, dedicated volunteer mentors, and youth leaders who understand the critical role young people play in ensuring a sustainable future for our blue planet.
We look forward to the decade ahead and our continued work to empower the next generation of ocean conservationists!
A special thanks to the amazing staff and volunteers at Mote Marine Laboratory for their tireless dedication and support of this event over the past decade!