Flourishing Oceans11 Aug 2022

Challenge Impossible: Can the ocean be healthier than it’s ever been?

A princess, a president, a 10-year-old and a comedian came together at an event at the UN Ocean Conference to answer the question: Can the ocean be healthier than it’s ever been?

The speakers were joined by high-level representatives from government, industry, philanthropy, finance and non-government organisations in this unconventional Minderoo Foundation event.

More than 6,000 participants — including 24 heads of state and government and over 2,000 representatives of civil society — met in Lisbon for the United Nations Ocean Conference (27 June to 1 July), co-hosted by the governments of Portugal and Kenya. Their intent was to turn the tide with meaningful actions to address the ocean emergency.

While high-level discussions were held inside the ‘Blue Zone’, Minderoo Foundation — together with Project Everyone (United Nations Global Partner for Sustainable Development Goals Advocacy and Outreach) — staged a side-event with a difference at Palacio Do Grilo, bringing together a diverse group armed with expertise, insights and influence to take a deep dive into the solutions.

The event followed a takeover of outside advertising in Lisbon, where large blue post-it-notes appeared in shopping malls and public spaces to raise awareness of what’s on Minderoo’s ‘Blue To Do’ list in order to achieve the UN sustainable development goals for the ocean including: return the ocean to a flourishing state, end overfishing and damaging fishing practices, protect 30 per cent of the ocean by 2030, address the climate crisis, and reduce plastic production.

Among the guests at the Challenge Impossible event were ocean advocate HRH Princess Eugenie and Surangel Whipps, Jr., the President of the Republic of Palau, which recently joined Samoa and Fiji in calling for a moratorium on deep-sea mining.

The format had speakers take part in a hot seat discussion pondering the questions “What is top on your Blue To Do list?” and “How do we make it happen?” The aim of the event was to meet the seemingly impossible challenge with ideas around collaboration, out-of-the-box thinking, and unusual partnerships.

The panel session was followed by an ‘Ocean Mic’ format where the audience put bold questions to the panel, as the participants worked to identify solves and next steps.


Tony Worby, Director, Minderoo Foundation Flourishing Ocean Initiative
Gail Gallie, Co-Founder, Project Everyone

Special guests:

Youth Ambassador, Alexandra Wileman
Comedian, Loyiso Madinga

Panel Members:

Enric Sala, Professor turned conservationist, National Geographic
Susan Ruffo, Senior Advisor for Ocean and Climate at United Nations Foundation
Sarah Hunter, Global Director of Public Policy, Google X
Philippa (Pip) Cohen, Environmental social scientist / equitable governance of fisheries in the developing world
J Charles FOX, Executive Director, Oceans 5

Minderoo Foundation
by Minderoo Foundation

Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.

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