The Ocean Summit, sponsored by Volvo Group, was a partnership between the Volvo Ocean Race, the U.S. State Department, the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Embassy, and Sail Newport.
Delegates and media heard from a list of expert speakers, including current and past Volvo Ocean Race sailors Dee Caffari, Knut Frostad (then Race CEO) and Charlie Enright, as well as figures from academia, national and local government, pressure groups, philanthropic agencies, and the corporate world.
Charlie Enright was subsequently invited to address a United Nations convention focusing on rubbish in the oceans.
The Newport Race Village also featured an Exploration Zone, to educate and inspire visitors about the sport of sailing, the oceans, and to discover continents and cultures around the world through the lens of the world's most adventurous sailboat race. Along with sustainability, Exploration Zone themes included marine science and technology, geography and culture, and mathematics.
Henry Sténson, executive vice president of Corporate Communications and Sustainability Affairs for the Volvo Group: “Marine debris is negatively affecting the oceans and oceanic life, and it’s clear that we all have a responsibility to help institute changes.”
Charlie Enright, skipper of Team Alvimedica, describing his experience of sailing in the Malacca Strait, which divides the Indonesian island of Sumatra from Malaysia: “It was just disgusting – you almost felt like you could walk across that stretch of water on the trash there at one stage.”
Rhode Island Senator, Sheldon Whitehouse: “Debris is a serious problem for marine ecosystems and coastal economies. In Rhode Island, I’ve seen first-hand how it can foul our coastline and hamper economic development and recreation.
"The Volvo Ocean Racers have seen how far offshore this pollution reaches. I’ve also seen how partnerships between government, private industry and motivated citizens can deal with this problem.”
UN Ambassador, Eden Charles, of Trinidad and Tobago: “Our challenge is not only to bring this issue to the attention of the world’s nations, but to get regulations to clean up the oceans implemented by all of them."
“To hear a current sailor speak on this issue with first-hand knowledge, plus the Race’s head, will be a very strong message indeed to our convention in New York.”
Gina Raimondo, Governor of Rhode Island, spoke on how the state was committed to cleaning its own coasts while Wendy Schmidt, a leading environmental philanthropist who is president of the The Schmidt Family Foundation, commented on how private foundations are helping tackle the problem with well targeted investment.
The event was hosted by Professor Dennis Nixon, a leading Rhode Island-based academic from the state university.
After hearing the warning from Dr Sandra Whitehouse, senior policy advisor for Ocean Conservancy, that, left unchecked, there could be one tonne of plastic in the oceans for every three tonnes of fish by 2025, he suggested a 15-year deadline to reverse the trend.
“The sailors have given us a call to action and we ignore it at our peril,” he said.
- Henry Sténson, executive vice president of Corporate Communications and Sustainability Affairs for the Volvo Group;
- Bjӧrn Lyrvall, Ambassador of Sweden to the U.S.;
- U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.);
- Dr. Sandra Whitehouse, senior policy advisor for Ocean Conservancy;
- Catherine Novelli, Undersecretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment, U.S. State Department;
- Dr. Lisa Svensson, Sweden’s Ambassador for Oceans, Seas and Freshwater;
- Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo;
- Wendy Schmidt, president of The Schmidt Family Foundation;
- Kersti Stranqvist, senior vice president for Sustainability, SCA, a leading global hygiene and forest products company;
- Team SCA crew member Dee Caffari;
- Daniel Wild, head of Sustainability Investing Research and Development, RobecoSAM, an international investment company with a specific focus on sustainability investments;
- Professor Dennis Nixon, Rhode Island Sea Grant Director for the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island;
- Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race;
- Charlie Enright, skipper of the Volvo Ocean Race Team Alvimedica, who narrated a brief film about marine debris.