Many stories, one world

I’ve just returned from a four day leadership program I ran for an extraordinary group of science leaders, from three different oceans. Reef Ecologic┬áis hosting the Coral Reef Fellowship, first of its kind in far north Queensland. The three-week program covers various aspects of complex leadership (this is where I helped out), marine reef science, and reef management. I had a few glorious days on Orpheus Island in sunshine, facilitating workshops and activities barefoot, with an expanse of ocean as backdrop.


reefecogroupThis is us on a snorkel expedition to see the amazing treasures of the coral reef. Guess who’s in the 80s retro wetsuit…

I was touched by the conversations, the stories, and the challenges each of these ocean leaders face in being custodians, caretakers, and advocates for healthy marine life.

Challenges include:

  • Climate change and rising sea levels means the Maldives, and other islands, are facing likely inundation and disappearance of its island under water;
  • Erosion of mainland – and thus disappearing housing and infrastructure;
  • Managing competing economic and environmental pressures where income generation opportunities are limited, and resources limited.

The group espouses this common belief:

Healthy Oceans = Healthy People = Healthy World.
Oceans make up 71% of the world, while water makes up 68% of the human body;
Oceans need clean water just like the human body needs clean water.
It’s time we looked after ocean health as we would our own health.

I think this sums up nicely our common responsibility to the planet, and our own future.

Here’s what I learned in teaching various aspects of leadership over the few days:

  • The details of our stories may vary, and yet we all want the same thing: to enjoy our lives in a healthy, beautiful world.
  • Our stories distinguish us, and they also unite.
  • Speaking the truth is one of the most challenging things we can ever do; and the most important.
  • However we differ – skin colour, religion, language – what unites us is greater than the sum of our parts.
  • When we have a deep and powerful ‘why’, courage holds our hand and helps us to step up.

To hear in their own words why oceans are important, here’s a clip filmed this Monday on World Oceans day.

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