Branson to speak to ocean summit attendees

  • Ocean conservation: Sir Richard Branson will speak to attendees at next week’s Ocean Risk Summit in Bermuda. Although he will not be present at the event, he will address delegates via Skype at the closing dinner (Photograph by Abraham Caro Marin/AP)

Richard Branson, one of the world’s most successful businessmen, will be involved “virtually” in next week’s Ocean Risk Summit in Bermuda.

The island is hosting the new event, which will be attended by leaders of governments and the economic, environmental and risk management sectors.

Featured speakers include Prince Albert II of Monaco, Queen Noor of Jordan and John Podesta, former counsellor to President Barack Obama and White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton.

The three-day summit, which begins on May 8, will cover issues from threats to global food security and human health, to the impacts of hurricanes on communities, ecosystems, businesses, migration and national security.

Sir Richard, founder of the Virgin Group, in 2004 established the group’s non-profit foundation Virgin Unite which has incubated a number of organisations, including Ocean Unite. Sir Richard supports ocean conservation with the Ocean Elders, and although he will not be at the summit in person he will speak to attendees at the closing dinner via an internet connection.

The summit is sponsored by XL Catlin, in partnership with organisations including Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Ocean Unite.

Mike McGavick, XL Catlin’s chief executive officer, said: “Ocean risk is an evolving and unpredictable field. We believe the insurance industry should take the lead in stimulating global, constructive debate and help identify solutions to this major global challenge. That is why as part of our Ocean Risk Initiative we are proud to host, along with our sponsoring partners, the first Ocean Risk Summit in Bermuda.”

The summit will focus on how governments and the business sector should respond to the risks of existing and projected changes in the ocean that until recently have been poorly understood.

The event comes in the midst of rising concern from governments and businesses across the globe about the threats related to changes in the oceans. In 2016 the United Nations recognised insurance as a key vehicle to enable the risk sharing and transfer solutions that are required for greater global climate resilience.

Another featured speaker is José María Figueres, founder of Ocean Unite and former president of Costa Rica. He said: “The ocean’s value to all life on earth and its potential to drive sustainable economic growth and employment are being jeopardised. This summit will bring together a group of leading experts to look at how we can build resilience; resilience in the ocean from the threats that it faces and resilience in societies so that the negative impacts of ocean change are minimised.”

Other speakers will include Peter Thomson, the United Nation’s special envoy for the ocean; Craig McLean, chief scientist, US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Amal-Lee Amin, chief of climate change division at Inter-American Development Bank; Annette Detken, head of sector policy unit at KfW Development Bank; and John Huff, CEO of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers.

For information on the summit go to