Ghislaine Maxwell is a British philanthropist and the founder of the TerraMar Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a global community that will advocate for the world's oceans and high seas. The TerraMar Project encourages people to sign a pledge and become what Ghislaine terms an "ocean citizen," joining the world's first ocean community dedicated to giving a voice to the least talked about and most forgotten part of our planet.
A passionate deep-sea diver, Ghislaine devotes considerable energy to raising awareness and focusing attention on the issues surrounding oceans. With less than 2 percent of the world's oceans being protected, Ghislaine encourages us to pay more attention to the ocean because it feeds the world's population, provides over half our oxygen and creates the planet's weather. But the ocean also faces huge challenges like overfishing, marine debris, ocean warming, ocean acidification, pollution and unsustainable development.
"The oceans have become the world's dumping ground," says Ghislaine. Literally, the world's largest landfill happens to be floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or the Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches, significant amounts of the world's plastic waste have been caught in currents and transported to these gyres.
Greenpeace reports that of the 200 billion pounds of plastic the world produces on an annual basis, 10 percent of it ends up in the ocean. The Eastern Garbage Patch floats between Hawaii and California, and scientists estimate its landmass to be twice the size of Texas. The Western Garbage Patch floats between Japan and Hawaii. These garbage patches are extremely hazardous, poisoning our oceans and killing off marine life. It's evident that international attention needs to be given to this man-made disaster.
One of Ghislaine's first priorities with the TerraMar Project is helping to create an ocean-specific Sustainable Development Goal at the United Nations in 2014. Between now and September, Ghislaine is campaigning for the international community and civil society at large to partner with the United Nations to support initiatives aimed at highlighting the important role of oceans. Oceans were not a part of the UN's Millennium Development Goals, but Ghislaine is campaigning to make sure that oceans are included in the Sustainable Development Goals, a move she says would make the ocean a priority and enable the creation of new laws and governance for the sustainability of the oceans and high seas. For more information on the development of the United Nations Sustainable Development goals visit: sustainabledevelopment.un.org
Ghislaine believes there is no better or more important place for these issues to come to a head than the United Nations, but what has been lacking is a big movement from the global community. Through her work with the TerraMar Project, she's hoping to make that change.