Graeme Kelleher - Ocean Elder

10 January 2013 | Article

Being an OceanElder is quite quaint. We're a disparate bunch, as you can see below, therefore we do not engage in pedantic debate. In fact, we generally agree and debate is minimised.

By working with and leveraging the work of other ocean organisations, OceanElders intends to encourage, endorse, and champion ocean initiatives. The structure is optimised and the team focused to be a catalytic agent of change in order to achieve lasting impacts at scale in ocean conservation and sustainability.

The existing members are:

  • Dr. Sylvia Earle
  • Jean-Michel Cousteau
  • Dr. Rita Colwell
  • Graeme Kelleher AO.
  • Captain Don Walsh
  • Sven Lindblad
  • Sir Richard Branson
  • Ted Turner
  • Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan
  • Jackson Browne
  • Neil Young
  • H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco.

The technically focused members have dedicated a significant number of years to the ocean, achieving significant results in protecting, valuing, and celebrating the ocean, are highly respected by the global ocean community, and are at a point in their careers where their only agenda is that of the ocean, i.e no other political or organisational agendas. They have a balance across a range of areas of expertise and show geographic and gender diversity.

The other members are a group of people who are committed to the ocean and who can help amplify the voice of the ocean and connect extensive resources to help tackle the challenges. They personify a demonstrated passion and commitment to the ocean, are globally recognised and respected, have the ability to reach millions of people through standard and social media and to catalyse resources for support of priority issues. They also show geographic and gender diversity, have a diversity of skills and backgrounds and are not biased by an agenda or organisational objectives.

We expect that ultimately there will be about 24 members, reflecting diversity geographically and in skills.

We meet about twice every year in different places, engaging in planning action with special emphasis on symbiosis with other organisations with complementary objectives and acting in a catalytic way, rather than the all-too frequent competition that is embraced by many agencies with similar objectives.

The emphases that we have adopted for the immediate future are on the High Seas (i.e. areas beyond national jurisdiction) and on marine protected areas (MPAs). It seems to me that there is considerable opportunity for OceanElders to cooperate with and support IUCN and its Commissions.

Graeme Kelleher. AO. Previous IUCN WCPA Marine Vice Chair and IUCN WCPA Emeritus