Everything is Connected


When I look back on this year, a few vivid images come to mind.

The most joyful of these was the look on the face of Saudi swimmer Dr Mariam Saleh Bin Laden when she became the first woman to swim from Saudi Arabia to Egypt. As she waved her nation’s flag after completing her swim across the Straits of Tiran, I knew that it was much more than just a personal best for her. The women in our team knew it as well. Just two years ago, women were not permitted to even drive a car in Saudi Arabia.

Coral in Crisis

I was also acutely aware of another barometer of change this year, this one not so positive. Coral bleaching around the world has signalled how stressed these vital ecosystems are. Which is why the vivid underwater seascape I swam over during my swim across the Red Sea made such a profound impression on me.

I was immensely gratified when the Egyptian government announced that they will protect the 2,000 kilometres of reefs in the Red Sea. Special kudos must go to HEPCA (Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association) for working so tirelessly on behalf of this precious coral.

Just how precious it is – and how fragile – was brought home once again at COP27. In the weeks after I swam past Sharm el Sheikh, world leaders gathered there to decide the fate of our planet. The numbers are stark. If we heat our planet by more than 2°C, 99% of coral reefs will die. We are currently on track for at least 2.6°C increase.

30x30 - Not just numbers

A month later, the call to protect 30% of the world's land and sea was one of the key issues of the COP15 Biodiversity conference in Montreal. We need a fundamental change in humanity’s relationship with nature, and the Global Biodiversity Framework puts nature front and centre, where it needs to be.

It was gratifying to see the parties recognise the key role indigenous peoples play in conservation. Indigenous peoples make up around 5% of the world’s population, but protect a disproportionate 80% of the world's biodiversity.

Our earth is a living system, and everything is connected. So while we aim to properly protect 30% of the world's land and sea, we must not forget about the remaining 70%.


This year we celebrated a number of very special people who go beyond the numbers and make a significant difference on the ground – and in the water. We launched our Coral Champions and Voices for Kelp series, to honour the scientists, artists and activists who recognise how vital these nurseries of the seas are to marine biodiversity. I look forward to amplifying more voices in this coming year.

Sense of Urgency

Right now, we face mass extinctions on a level unprecedented in human history. With each year that passes, there is less time for us to deal with what is coming. With each year that passes, we must accelerate our climate action, our energy innovation, and our drive to put nature first.

Everything is connected - and oceans are an integral part of ensuring clean water, fresh air, and a habitable planet.

I would like to thank each and every one of you who has worked to help protect our oceans this year. I want to thank my team, who have my back during my expeditions and beyond. And I want to thank our partners, LGIM, who get what we do, and why we do it.

For many people, this will be the first time in years that they are able to come together with friends and family to celebrate one another. In the year ahead, let us redouble our efforts to respect and protect this miraculous world we live in. So that when we come together again this time next year, we have even more to celebrate.

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