On January 23, the Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA), a global non-profit organization that advances the impact of young ocean leaders, announced a $1.5 million donation from Marc and Lynne Benioff. SOA made the announcement at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, which takes place from January 22 to January 25, 2019.
Founded by Daniela V. Fernandez, Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA) is the world's largest coalition of young leaders (under 35) that focuses on developing solutions to protect and rehabilitate the ocean. "This generous gift from Marc and Lynne Benioff will help further our goal of transforming brilliant ideas into revenue-generating ventures that can scale and have a positive impact on the health and sustainability of our planet," said Fernandez.
The ocean is facing a multitude of threats due to warming temperatures, ocean acidification from increased carbon emissions, overfishing, and other detrimental human activities. Since life on earth cannot be sustained without the critical role the ocean plays in our climate system, the need to preserve and rehabilitate the ocean is dire.
To coincide with the announcement of the funding, SOA is releasing its first State of Our Ocean Annual Report at Davos. The report will be an annual assessment of the health of our ocean, based on the analysis of SOA young leaders and ocean experts. In launching this report at the start of the year, it is hoped that SOA will be able to not only diagnose the challenges facing our ocean, but also set a direction for government and business leaders to align behind for the ocean. The State of Our Ocean report is available on the SOA website.
Fernandez believes that by providing young leaders with education, resources, and opportunities, they will create a measurable impact on our ocean and become integral forces of change.
"Our oceans are in grave danger, due to the many consequences of climate change and pollution. These challenges can be solved with investment and innovation," said Marc Benioff. "Lynne and I are proud to support Daniela Fernandez and the Sustainable Ocean Alliance's bold vision to create 100 new startups by 2021 to help heal the ocean."
The Benioffs' contribution will triple the number of startups that are selected to participate in SOA's second annual Ocean Solutions Accelerator program, taking place during the summer of 2019 in San Francisco. The startups will receive mentorship from leading experts in the Silicon Valley, present to investors and philanthropists at SOA's Ocean Tech Demo Day on August 15, 2019, and have the opportunity to be featured at a series of major international summits on the ocean.
SOA is also pleased to unveil key partners that are supporting SOA's efforts of raising the profile of the ocean globally through media, exploration, education and entrepreneurship. OceanX, a Dalio Philanthropies initiative to explore the ocean with scientists and researchers and bring it back to the world through captivating media, is joining forces with SOA to inspire and engage the next generation of ocean leaders. Monterey Bay Aquarium, a California-based aquarium that inspires conservation of the ocean, will also be supporting SOA and is excited to build a partnership going into 2019.
As part of the program finale, SOA in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions will host the Ocean Solutions Accelerator At Sea, an 8-day expedition aboard the National Geographic Quest exploration vessel, setting sail to Alaska on August 24, 2019. This voyage will feature captivating keynotes, demos of game-changing ocean solutions, and collaborative workshops. Sven-Olof Lindblad, the CEO of Lindblad Expeditions, has shown his personal support for the Ocean Solutions Accelerator at Sea by providing his own individual contribution to the organization.
Applications for the Ocean Solutions Accelerator are now open. For more information, click here.