Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit 2019 Recap


SOA Blog

Sustainable Ocean Alliance is accelerating ocean solutions around the world. Here are their stories.

100 Young Ocean Leaders from 48 countries received scholarships to attend the 2019 OOYLS

This year, 100 young leaders from 48 countries received scholarships to attend, and the illustrious list of speakers included the Crown Prince of Norway,  the Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the First Lady of the Republic of Palau, and others across ocean conservation, government, and international institutions. 

Initiated by a partnership between U.S Secretary John Kerry and Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA), the Our Ocean Youth Leadership summit provides an opportunity to showcase youth-led ocean solutions and entrepreneurial innovations, and to create a networking opportunity for youth to engage with leaders in policy, industry, research, government initiatives, ocean conservation, and NGOs.


100 Ocean Leaders from 48 Countries

Daniela Fernandez welcomed ocean leaders to the summit by sharing the story of the Sustainable Ocean Alliance – which was born from the idea that youth deserve a seat at the table when major decisions are being made about our futures. This idea inspired Fernandez to encourage former Secretary of State John Kerry to add a youth component to this conference. And four years later, here we are in Oslo celebrating the fourth Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit!


Royalty, Heads of State Speak to Youth

Across two days, technically in just over 24 hours, attendees were treated to speaking visits from a host of pre-eminent authorities who understand the significance of saving our ocean, including:

  • Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway
  • John Kerry, former U.S. Secretary of State
  • Anne Husebekk, Director at The Arctic University of Norway,
  • Dag-Inge Ulstein, Minister of International Development of Norway
  • Afroz Shah, UNEP Champion of the Earth, and leader of the Versova beach cleanup
  • HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway
  • Keith Krach, U.S. State Dept. Under-Secretary for economic growth, energy, and the environment 
  • Bjørn Tore Markussen, CEO of REV Ocean’s Ocean Data Platform
  • Ellie Mackay, CEO of Ellipsis Environmental (and recent graduate of the 2019 SOA Accelerator)
  • Janis Searles Jones, CEO of the Ocean Conservancy
  • Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission
  • Peter Thomson, Ambassador and Special Envoy for the Oceans at the UN 
  • Debbie Remengesau, First Lady of the Republic of Palau 

See photos of speakers at the bottom of this post.

In between speakers, ocean leaders spent one minute each on stage, sharing the work that they do to protect and sustain our global ocean. 

Creating Solutions: Design Bootcamp

Mandalah, a globally-conscious innovation consultancy, served as the lead facilitators for the Design Challenge. The participants were divided into 20 Teams based on their areas of focus and then assigned one of the challenge themes: Marine Pollution, Climate Change, Sustainable Fisheries,  Marine Protected Areas, Sustainable Blue Economy, and Maritime Security. In just 5 hours spread over two days, the teams worked together to break down their ocean problems, and come up with specific, actionable solutions that they could prototype and pitch in front of the panel of judges. The winning team presented their solution on the main stage at the close of the Our Ocean Conference. 

Ocean Leader Testimonials

“It is impossible not to get inspired by the whole atmosphere, young strong passionate people working together towards the same goal..” - Francesca Alberti, Italy

“The ocean unites us all and it is a great encouragement to know there are other young people all over the world with the same passion as me, and bringing us all together is a powerful catalyst for inspiring positive change." -  Oliver Beardon, United Kingdom

“The bootcamp was remarkable! I had the opportunity to present my project in front of an audience and my contribution was heard.” - Gilang Ramadhan, Indonesia

Our Ocean conference is a "bluetopia" - paradise for ocean problem-solvers. I feel completely transformed and renewed by the bootcamp. The young ocean leaders from around the world are some of the most enthusiastic, creative, and brilliant people I have met.” - Patrick Cage, USA

“What I enjoyed the most is the perfect balance between talking and taking action; and the fact that the youth was placed within the decision-making process and our voices were heard. In that way, I think Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit was really a perfect embodiment of the priorities in the race to save our ocean.“ -  Anne-Sophie Roux, France

“For the first time ever I feel like I am part of a family, a supportive, international community of like minded people who I can go to with struggles or ideas. I love the fact that there is the potential for ocean leaders to attend more than one summit to build upon skills and relationships from the previous year. This really pushes me to do even more to help our oceans.” - Aimee Clark, New Zealand

"Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit is a conference every committed young ocean leader should endeavor to attend because it represents the new global movement where committed and deliberate actions to save our oceans are receiving global attention and support. It is where words are put into action to save our oceans." -  Oluwaseyi Oduwole, Nigeria

“Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit is a huge family of extremely professional, qualified and progressive people, trying to "make oceans great again" through science and technologies. I am very proud that I am a part of this family."  -  Tamar Kerdikoshvili, Georgia

"Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit did not feel like a youth summit, rather, it gave me the opportunity to speak to and impart my feelings on the challenges faced by myself and others, to the people who have the power and influence to undertake these changes needed" -  Peter Chauvel, Netherlands

"Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit in Oslo brought together an extremely dedicated and powerful group of young ocean leaders whose infectious energy reassured that this planet is in good hands. By connecting this community, important partnerships have been developed that will translate into meaningful ocean action.” - Mark Haver, United States

“To attend the Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit was the best experience of my life. That was my first time outside my country and I never thought, even studying oceanography, I would meet other young people from around the world who, like me, dream of a healthy and sustainable ocean". -Lisandra Matos, Brazil

"The Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit was inspiring, bolstering, and encouraging. It is a powerhouse of changemakers. This experience has provided me with new hope for how we can improve our relationship with the ocean." -Mary Paquet, Canada

"The event was  an incubation of innovation and promotes youth to initiate and take action towards the sustainability of the ocean.” -Tuan-Anh Bui, Vietnam.

"Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit  is a platform of inspiration when you needed it the most. The youth leaders' energy and action are contagious”. - Bryan Madera, Philippines 

“Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit summed up in one word was empowering. Society needs to work together to protect our planet and natural resources, and I think empowering youth to be apart of this movement is the most critical component for achieving success” - Carly Portch, Australia

Moving Forward into Palau 2020

In her closing remarks delivered to Our Ocean conference participants, Daniela Fernandez made three requests of the world leaders in the room:  

  • accelerate the timeline of their targets to within the next five years, 
  • reject proposals to advance seabed mining
  • increase efforts to empower the next generation of ocean stewards.

To capitalize on the energy and ideas that resulted from the conference, Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA) has made microgrants available to the 20 teams who participated in the bootcamp, and will continue to support all the attendees through the Sustainable Ocean Alliance’s Ocean Leadership and Ocean Solutions Accelerator programs. Applications to attend Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit 2020 in Palau will open in the spring of 2020. 

View the OOYLS press release here.

Speaker Photos




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