On the stage at the World Ocean Summit: Inés Mas de la Peña (ECOP Spain) and the Sustainable Ocean Alliance panel prove how competent emerging Ocean leaders are

Words by: Inés Mas de la Peña

I had the opportunity to be a speaker at the World Ocean Summit from the Economist Impact in Lisbon. This opportunity arose due to my involvement with Sustainable Ocean Alliance as Hub Leader co-creating SOA Spain besides co-creating ECOP Spain. Sustainable Ocean Alliance develops and implements innovative solutions, and mobilizes the ocean youth to restore the health of the ocean in our lifetime. They have built the world’s largest network of young ocean leaders and supported innovative startups, nonprofits, and grassroots campaigns dedicated to solving the greatest threats facing our planet.

The Lloyd’s Register Foundation offered financial support to 4 young ocean leaders to attend and speak at a panel sharing our thoughts of the conference and interviewing the founders of two ocean-related startups, Ocean Generation and Sea Ranger Service. The panel “Next generation: what young people think makes a sustainable ocean economy” where, along with other fellow SOA Hub Leaders Eugenia Barroca, Ana Amaral, and Lavinia Voiculescu, we gave our perspective on the importance of blue economy skills, on open data and technology in ocean innovation, on the future of resilient coastal cities and on the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to ocean conservation and restoration solutions. However, what stood out most was the underlying idea of the importance of having youth representatives in these events. The younger generation has a key role to play in the future of our oceans and it starts by being offered the opportunities to speak up at these high level events, where we can start conversations with key decision makers. This summit has brought together a community of individuals dedicating their lives to protect our ocean through science, entrepreneurship, innovation and education and it has inspired me to keep working on this path.

Taking part in this panel and the conference has opened so many doors: opportunities to collaborate and create synergies for younger generations, gaining more knowledge of the ocean ecosystem and the startups and entities in it, but mostly, meeting all the other people dedicating their lives to the ocean.

In order to make events like this more accessible and inclusive for ECOPs, organizers and companies should prioritize offering financial assistance for young professionals to attend, as it can be challenging for ECOPs to afford the exorbitant costs of attending: travel, accommodation, food or high registration fees. Additionally, organizers can create spaces or opportunities for networking and collaboration among attendees, as this can help to foster a sense of community among young professionals.

If as an ECOP you have the chance to go to such events, don’t be shy and introduce yourself to everyone you find interesting. It is important that you take advantage of this opportunity to connect with like-minded people and share your perspectives.

It’s important to have young people at the forefront of discussions and activism around climate change and oceans. At the end of the day, we are the ones inheriting the decisions taken today.

Now with the upcoming Ocean Conference in April, 2024 in Barcelona lets remember the importance of bringing youth to the forefront of ocean discussions. It is up to us to continue pushing for sustainable and inclusive decisions, innovative solutions and collaborations towards a more sustainable ocean economy. Let’s get together at this important event and raise our voices.