Announcing Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2021

Supporting Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

By Jordan Koetje

April 2021

The Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW) conference is the premier ocean policy conference in the United States, hosted by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. The themes for this year’s conference include Climate Disruption and Climate Justice, Environmental Quality and Justice, and Equity and Inclusion for Sustainable Ocean and Great Lakes.

CHOW started in 2001 as a day-long gathering and has grown to become the nation's leading annual conference highlighting current marine, coastal, and Great Lakes policy and programs. CHOW provides people from all over the world the opportunity to engage in discussions about issues impacting our ocean and Great Lakes, and to propose innovative policies and partnerships to address these issues.

CHOW 2021 Registration Now Open!

Registration is free of charge. The event will take place June 8 - 10, 2021.

Register to Attend
A banner with the words Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, sustaining our ocean and great lakes
CHOW 2021 will take place June 8-10, 2021. Image: National Marine Sanctuary Foundation

Last year’s CHOW convened in the wake of events that became the impetus for a profound shift in the social justice climate in the United States. After the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 and the fervent calls to action that followed, the national discussion around issues of climate justice, equity, and inclusion in science and conservation were given new energy.

Climate justice is social justice, and diversity and inclusion in the workforce is a vital component for organizational success. The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation saw the CHOW 2021 platform as an opportunity to discuss these issues further with policymakers, scientists, scholars, businesses, and conservation leaders.

a scuba diver next to a diseased coral
National marine sanctuaries face many human-caused threats, including coral disease and marine debris. Photo: Nick Zachar/NOAA
Laysan albatross next to a pile of plastic marine debris on the beach
Supporting justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in conservation, science, and policy will improve our ability to tackle these issues. Photo: David Slater/NOAA

“Achieving bold, lasting change in ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes policy will require the experience, perspectives and values of the communities most affected by environmental inequities," said Kris Sarri, president and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. "CHOW 2021 is an opportunity to examine how exclusionary practices and systemic racism negatively impact conservation, science, and policy, and how strengthening equity and justice will improve the sustainability of our ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes and the communities that depend on them."

CHOW 2021 will feature three full days of activities, including plenaries and breakout sessions. The discussions at this year’s CHOW are expected to lead to actionable outcomes, and will also inform future conferences – the work will not stop here.

Jordan Koetje is an environmental science student at Oregon State University and a Virtual Federal Student Service intern with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.