The Earth Optimism Summit is Coming

The Earth Optimism Summit is scheduled for Earth Day Weekend, April 22nd - 24th, 2017 in Washington, D.C. and around the world. Learn more about the program schedule by visiting


Since October of 2016, our collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution's Ocean Portal has been to address ocean solutions and innovative projects in the context of the Earth Optimism Summit, to be held on Earth Day weekend  in Washington, D.C., and around the world.

The mission of the Summit, as announced by the Smithsonian, is as follows:

“The global conservation movement has reached a turning point. After decades of patient study, we have documented the fast pace of habitat loss, the growing number of endangered and extinct species, and the increasing speed of global climate change. We have communicated our findings to a concerned public, and we have their attention.

But this is just the beginning, not the end, of a conversation. For while the seriousness of these threats cannot be denied, there are a growing number of examples of improvements in the health of species and ecosystems, along with benefits to human well being, thanks to our conservation actions. Innovations to reduce our impact on the planet are also starting to make a difference.

What’s working in conservation, why, and how can we scale up and replicate our successes? What are the best minds, boldest experiments, and most innovative community practices telling us about how to preserve biodiversity, protect natural resources, and address climate and sustainability?

The D.C. proceedings will be live-streamed for global viewing, and sister events will take place around the world. With its 2017 Earth Optimism Summit, the Smithsonian celebrates a change in focus from problem to solution, from a sense of loss to one of hope, in a dialogue about conservation and sustainability. We invite you to join us in pursuit of the models and success stories that will inspire progress at the species, ecosystem, and global level, grounded in sound science and collective experience.”

The event is intended to be “a celebration of success, where the science and stories of conservation accomplishments are shared and discussed. The goal is to overwhelm participants with the magnitude and diversity of what is working in conservation, moving the conversation from doom and gloom to optimism and opportunity. The audience is intended to be thought leaders, practitioners, pioneering scientists and researchers, artists, national and international media, and philanthropists.  There will be a special emphasis on youth and traditionally under-represented groups; streamed internet access to plenary and concurrent sessions; films, storytelling, the arts, musical performances and theater; and public conversations featuring major figures in the conservation and innovation world addressing issues such as biodiversity and agriculture, saving species and protecting spaces, energy of the future, sustainable cities, and environmental justice.”

Since October, World Ocean Observatory, through World Ocean Radio and our social media, broadcast a 24-episode earth optimism series: profiles of exemplars and environmental innovators and ocean activists, individuals and organizations around the world that are but a sample of the new vision, new ideas and inventions, and new behaviors that are transforming our relationship with the natural world.

Why optimism? Well, it surely beats the depressing pessimism that grips so much of the news today. Optimism may be defined as “a disposition or tendency to take a favorable view of things and to anticipate favorable results,” and such an orientation is evermore necessary particularly when times seem dire. Conservationists, on land and sea, have made and are making still major changes in how we engage on every level and in every place with the urgent need to preserve natural places, endangered species, and ecological systems. Through research, innovative practices, and political activity, they are changing our world for the better. This is neither naïve nor ineffective; it is hard work, persistence, commitment, and success in many more ways than we may today know or yet understand.

The Earth Optimism Summit, on the front line of “favorable results” and should be known and celebrated.