We are not lacking in the dynamic forces needed to create the future.
We live immersed in a sea of energy beyond all comprehension.

                                        - Thomas Berry,  The Great Work

Unleashing the Ocean's Potential

Our oceans face extraordinary damage ranging from coral reef loss, ocean acidification, and overfishing to pollution from plastics and chemicals.  Yet, intelligently protected and managed oceans offer an exceptional opportunity to ecologically supply humanity with abundant energy, fresh water, nutritious food, and a stable climate.  Science, technology, and innovation hold the keys to safeguarding our seas and wisely tapping the ocean’s potential.  But to unlock these urgently needed solutions, we need immediate concerted action - an ocean innovation movement.

In support of this movement we are organizing a multi-year project and major summit in the heart of the Pacific:

The Island Earth | Ocean Innovation Summit: Unleashing the Ocean’s Potential

The Summit will be held in early 2021, helping to usher in the United Nation’s “Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.”

The Summit will bring together 300 scientists, engineers, business leaders, community and government leaders, scholars, youth leaders, environmental advocates and influencers to take action on programs to safeguard our oceans and wisely use the potential of the oceans to address some of the greatest challenges of our time – energy, food, water, health and sustainable communities.

Climate change lies at the heart of this project. If we are going to have an impact on global warming and  climate change, we need to address the problem of high levels of atmospheric CO2.  The ocean provides one of the best largely untapped opportunities for both reducing carbon emissions and carbon sequestration. Solving the ocean plastics issue is not a specific target issue of the Summit, but it is a key component of maximizing the potential of the ocean to solve food, water and health problems.

water sampling
mosquito project

Leading up to the Summit extensive work will be undertaken by working groups organized around the five ocean-related tracks: energy, food, water, heath and sustainable communities.  These working groups will draw on the latest scientific research, new technologies and best practices to develop, highlight and present projects, programs, proposals and campaigns that will be acted on at the Summit.

Several features distinguish this Summit


Focus on Action and Impact:

Groups will be working over the next year and a half on actionable programs, policies, and campaigns that advance missions in five key areas of the blue economy: energy, food, water, health, and sustainable communities. These projects will be considered and acted upon at the Summit. Examples range from wave energy and advanced desalinization to new concepts for fisheries management, pollution-free industrial processes and carbon sequestration.

coral tree project

Collaboration of Diverse Perspectives:

We are assembling a targeted group of concerned individuals that includes scientists, engineers, community and business leaders, traditional knowledge experts, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, investors and influencers. The diversity of this highly motivated group will greatly contribute to the productivity and ultimate impact of the Summit.


Innovative projects and technologies for protecting and tapping into the potential of the ocean will be presented and discussed at the Summit and during the leadup. These projects will range from ocean thermal energy conversion and direct wave energy desalination to renewable energy marine transportation. Selected projects will be funded by interested participants - providing the opportunity to invest directly in solutions.

taking turtle measurements

Emerging Leader Participation:

Emerging leaders will be a fundamental part of the program. We will include several Obama Foundation young leaders/scholars plus youth leaders from the Young African Leaders Initiative and other groups. Their perspective and insights will benefit the group and they will benefit from the wealth of knowledge at the Summit and the opportunity to build a lifetime of contacts – all helping empower them to empower others.

Critical Timing:

The timing of the Summit, shortly after the U.S. 2020 election, provides two alternative pathways and sets of opportunities. If there is a change in the U.S. administration, the excitement and energy around environmental issues will be enormous both within and outside the U.S., and the Summit will contribute to charting a new course taking advantage of the unfolding opportunities. If there is no change in the US administration, the Summit will provide an important venue for discussing what actions individuals, organizations, communities, and other countries can do to confront the increased threat to our environment.  In either case, the Summit will rally action at an important point in history.

coral bleaching
retrieving ARMS


This is not a one-off event. Teams formed in the lead up to the Summit will expand and grow as they implement the projects, programs, policies, and campaigns that have been adopted. The Island Earth organization will assess the impact of the actions taken and explore opportunities for consideration at future summits.

Most of the Summit will be held onboard the Paul Gauguin 330 passenger cruise ship in Tahiti, with activities on the island of Tahiti, the neighboring island of Moorea (at University of California and French research institutions) and on Tetiaroa where The Brando luxury environmental resort is located.

Gump station on Moorea

After the opening session in Tahiti on the Paul Gauguin, the ship will sail to Cooks Bay on Moorea.  Over the next three days the main working sessions will be held on the Paul Gauguin, with additional sessions at the University of California Gump South Pacific Research Station and the CRIOBE French marine laboratory on Moorea.  During the closing session group leaders and others will present recommendations and proposals for adoption by the group.


After the closing session on the Paul Gauguin, guests and featured speakers wanting to stay onboard the Paul Gauguin for further discussions and collaborations will have the opportunity to do so while the Paul Gauguin sails for three days to the neighboring islands of Huahine, Raiatea and Taha’a where activities will include a concert on a private island with musicians and performers to be announced.

Music on the ship