In 2009, oceanographer Sylvia Earle won the TED Prize — earning her the chance to have one wish realized that could help change the world. She chose to focus, naturally, on the oceans; urging for the creation and management of essential marine protected areas. She coined them “Hope Spots” and, through education and support, hoped to see a global network of such areas created.
TED took the first step to realizing Earle’s wish this week with “The Mission Blue Voyage” to the Galapagos Islands. In partnership with National Geographic, the trip featured over 100 esteemed guests and twenty-five inspiring speakers. It also had quite the gathering of eco-conscious celebrities. Leonardo DiCaprio, Edward Norton, Glenn Close, Damien Rice, Daryl Hannah and Chevy Chase to name a few. According to updates on Twitter and Facebook, the 6-day event achieved its mission of inspiring collaboration and getting powerful people behind new conservation initiatives.
One such example came from the Vice President of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, who met privately with celebs like Norton and DiCaprio and received backing for a conservation plan to protect the Ecuadorian Amazon from oil extraction. According to AFP, the “Yasuni-ITT initiative” would prevent more than 850 million barrels of oil from being extracted from the Amazon Yasuni park — and conceivably create a viable carbon trading industry in the process. It’s estimated that not drilling would save 410 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.
If oil extraction was allowed, a spill would be devastating. One hectare of land in Yasuni has the highest estimated diversity per unit area in the world for any plant or animal group.
According to Vice-President Moreno, Leonardo DiCaprio is willing to personally visit Yasuni and get involved in the campaign. “All who were present yesterday, besides supporting Galapagos want to be part of Yasuni,” said another official.
For more on the Mission Blue project, check out the official site here.