Hello! My name is Monica Medina, and I am the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.
Our bureau strives to promote American leadership for a healthier planet—our ocean, environment, health, science and space.
I first want to say, WOW! What amazing pitches we all just heard. Let’s have a round of applause, again, for the innovators.
You know, just over a month ago many of us were in Palau for the Our Ocean Conference, where we came away with nearly 400 commitments valued at more than $16 billion to conserve and protect our ocean. This was a monumental success.
It is efforts like today’s showcase that really turn those commitments into action.
The innovators we all just heard from represent the future of ocean and water health, the best our world has to offer, these innovations will be what shapes the future of our planet
This is a critical moment for our ocean.
We know the threats facing the ocean. And we know what’s at stake.
I would like to highlight some priorities my team and I are working on at the State Department.
First, we are focusing on the ocean-climate nexus because the climate crisis is an ocean crisis. We see the ocean as a source of so many solutions.
Second, we are looking to grow and strengthen governance of marine protected areas. President Biden has challenged us to conserve or protect at least 30 percent of the global ocean by 2030 – an initiative we refer to as 30 by 30.
Third, the United States is working with partners around the world to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
Fourth, the United States is working hard to combat plastic pollution – the silent killer of ocean life.
And finally, we are working hard to advance ocean science and technology, which underpins our efforts to address all the issues we are discussing here today.
The United States’ commitment to supporting ocean science and technology innovation is unwavering, and that commitment is made clear today as we elevate these innovative solutions through our Global Innovations through Science and Technology Initiative, or GIST.
Through GIST we leverage American leadership in science, technology, and innovation to achieve global economic and development goals.
As you have seen firsthand today, GIST innovators are tackling climate change, public health, and sustainability in their local communities and globally.
Since 2011, GIST has reached over 130 emerging economies, trained over 15,000 startups that have generated 250 million dollars in revenue, and created 6,000 jobs
We need innovators such as those who stood on this stage today to continue to build a better planet. Our future depends on it.
I encourage you to continue to think creatively to achieve a healthier ocean;
To be persistent in the work to achieve our goals;
And most importantly, I invite you to work together as this planet is all of ours to take care of.
The U.S. is determined through programs such as GIST to promote innovation towards a collaborative means to protect our environment.
Thank you to all the innovators once again for your impressive work and coming together to find solutions to some of our most challenging issues.
This event would not be possible without our expert judges, engaging master of ceremonies Patricia Furtado and the GIST program team.
I would also like to express my gratitude to the EDP Foundation and Mr. Miguel Stillwell for hosting us at this beautiful venue.
Last but certainly not least, to my colleagues and fearless leaders, Administrator Spinrad, DCM Kane, and Chair Mallory – Thank you for your support and commitment to this effort.
Now I don’t know about you all, but I’m ready to hear who today’s winners are!