Attendees heard from a wide array of speakers, who discussed the alarmingly increasing amount of marine debris and its wide-ranging impact on the environment, human health and economy.
“Marine debris is negatively affecting the oceans and oceanic life, and it’s clear that we all have a responsibility to help institute changes,” said Henry Sténson, executive vice president of Corporate Communications and Sustainability Affairs for the Volvo Group. “Environmental care is a core value of the Volvo Group, and I am pleased that we, through the Volvo Ocean Race and also this Ocean Summit on Marine Debris, can bring further attention to this subject.”
“Our biggest challenge in fighting the pollution of the oceans is ignorance,” said Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race. “In the Volvo Ocean Race, our sailors experience this every day at sea, and I am honored to be part of the Ocean Summit to help bring more attention to a growing catastrophe that is the responsibility of all of us to reverse.”
Summit attendees also heard from 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 Ocean, Seas and Freshwater; Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo; Wendy Schmidt, president of The Schmidt Family Foundation; Kersti Strandqvist, senior vice president for Sustainability, SCA, a leading global hygiene and forest products company; and 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, opened and closed the event. Frostad introduced a brief film about marine debris, and Charlie Enright, skipper of the Volvo Ocean Race Team Alvimedica, narrated it.
“Debris is a serious problem for marine ecosystems and coastal economies,” U.S. Sen. Whitehouse said. “In Rhode Island, I’ve seen firsthand how it can foul our coastline and hamper economic development and recreation. The Volvo Ocean Race 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, and that’s why I’m happy to have joined today’s summit.”
“A cleaner and healthier environment benefits everyone and helps our economy thrive,” Raimondo said. “While we know there is more work to do, I am proud of Rhode Island’s commitment to doing its part to clean-up marine debris and find innovative solutions to protect our waterways. This robust conversation, as a part of the Newport stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race, shows we are ready to work together across government, business and the environment to make our bays and oceans healthier.”
The Volvo Ocean Race is one of the world’s most demanding team sporting events. Newport is the only North American stopover during this nine-month race, which began in Alicante, Spain, and will end in Gothenburg, Sweden.
For additional information about the Ocean Summit on Marine Debris, including photos and video from the event, please visit: www.volvooceanrace.com/en/presszone/en/231_Ocean-Summit-On-Marine-Debris.html.