The Ocean x Climate Change at TED Countdown Summit

From the 15th to the 18th October, around 600 climate change leaders gathered in Edinburgh for the TED Countdown Summit – a conference entirely dedicated to the climate crisis.

Just two weeks ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in policymakers, business leaders, scientists, activists and creatives came together for four days to identify climate solutions.

The ocean made two TED mainstage appearances during the week. First, with marine ecologist Enric Sala who presented on the ability of the ocean to rejuvenate itself when left to its own devices. Using the example of Cabo Pulmo – the community led Marine Protected Area in Mexico – he presented the case to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030 to allow marine ecosystems to flourish and reduce the impact of climate change.

The role ocean can play in climate change was reiterated in the second ocean talk by Susan Ruffo, Senior Advisor for Ocean and Climate at United Nations Foundation.  Susan made the case that the ocean is an unsung hero in the story of climate change, providing readymade solutions to the climate crisis — if we are smart enough to recognise them.

A gathering of ocean minds happened on day 3 of TED Countdown at the breakout session “Our awesome ocean: The nexus with climate”. The session was organised and run by EOL co-director Dr Meriwether Wilson along with UNFCCC High Level Climate Champions for the OceanChampion Ignace Beguin Billecocq and Kirstin Irving from Leaders Quest



The session began with short talks from Peter Thompson UN Secretary-General Special Envoy to the Ocean on the international policy perspectives of the ocean-climate nexus and a review of  ocean-climate science from EOL co-director and Professor of Climate Science, Sandy Tudhope.

Following the talks, speakers, organisers and attendees were invited to join round-table discussions on a particular ocean-climate topic. The topics were on the themes of blue carbon, a regenerative blue economy (though regenerative aquaculture and tourism) and ocean literacy. The discussions were facilitated by postgraduate researchers from the University of Edinburgh whose research is in ocean-climate space.

We were thrilled that 2020 Ocean Leaders Charlie Gough, Yolanda Sanchez and Hugo Tagholm could attend TED Countdown and participate in these conversations.

The session drew to a close with time for reflection while participants listened to a 3-minutes of ocean soundscape “The Ocean is a Drum” from artist Gordon Hempton.

Scroll to Top