Sylvia Earle: A wish big enough to change the world

13 July 2009 | News story

IUCN’s Global Marine Programme and World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Marine are delighted to announce that they have been appointed by Dr. Sylvia Earle as technical advisors on her 2009 TED Prize wish - “to protect the blue heart of the planet.” 

TED started out as an annual conference in which people from Technology, Entertainment and Design industries came together to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. Since its inception in 1984, the scope of TED has expanded to include global issues, science, business and the arts.

Each year, the TED Community uses its exceptional array of talent and resources to honor three extraordinary individuals with the TED Prize; previous winners include President Bill Clinton, Bono, E.O. Wilson, Dave Eggers and Larry Brilliant. No ordinary prize, not only does each winner receive $100,000 from TED, they are also granted “One Wish to Change the World.”

This year, the TED Prize went to the astronomer Jill Tarter, Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu and the illustrious oceanographer and deep-ocean explorer, Dr. Sylvia Earle.


"We've got to somehow stabilize our connection to nature so that in 50 years from now, 500 years, 5,000 years from now there will still be a wild system and respect for what it takes to sustain us," exclaimed an excited Earle during the TED ceremony earlier this year. "I wish you would use all means at your disposal -- films! expeditions! the web! more! -- to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet."


As we reach the mid-point of the year, Sylvia has a growing team of experts working to achieve her goal. Alongside Sylvia’s foundation, DeepSearch, IUCN and WCPA-Marine are working with other key partners to ensure the strategic development and implementation of Sylvia’s wish. IUCN member, National Geographic, is also playing a key role, as are the New York-based marketing experts Razorfish.

So far, the first exciting development is a TED expedition to be launched in Spring 2010. A select group of marine scientists, ocean explorers, musicians, artists and activists will embark on a journey to the Galapagos Islands for a TED Oceans – a conference aboard the eco-friendly Lindblad National Geographic Endeavor Ship. Streaming live for the first time and translated into many different languages, speakers will aim to bring global attention to Sylvia’s wish and discuss innovative and cutting edge approaches towards working together on ocean issues. TED Oceans is designed to be an unforgettable voyage that will: broaden public awareness of the many threats facing our oceans; inspire individuals to take action; celebrate leadership in ocean protection; and challenge world leaders to act decisively to ensure a rapid and substantial increase in both the number and extent of marine protected areas globally, as well as the resources available to ensure that they are managed effectively.

TED Oceans is just the first in a long line of exciting projects that will be revealed throughout the year so watch this space.

To help strengthen the goals of Sylvia’s TED Prize, you can help the TED Prize team get a better understanding of the public’s knowledge of the dangers facing the oceans today by completing this short survey. Help IUCN and WCPA - Marine make Sylvia Earle’s wish a reality!