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Ocean Summit Sponsored by Volvo Group to Focus on Plastic Pollution

The Volvo Group is sponsoring an Ocean Summit during the Volvo Ocean Race stopover in Newport, Rhode Island, to educate attendees about ocean health issues, with a focus on plastic pollution. The summit, scheduled for Friday, May 18, is also sponsored by 11th Hour Racing, the Mirpuri Foundation, AkzoNobel, the Ocean Family Foundation, Bluewater and Stena Recycling. The official stopover partner in Newport is Sail Newport, a nonprofit organization that promotes easy and affordable access to sailing.

"Plastic pollution is a significant problem, and we are proud to help raise awareness about the issue by hosting ocean summits at several Ocean Race stopovers," said Henry Sténson, chairman of the Volvo Ocean Race and senior advisor to Volvo Group President and CEO Martin Lundstedt. "We held our inaugural Ocean Summit while in Newport during the Volvo Ocean Race in 2015, and we are glad to be building on that success again this year."  

Summit attendees will hear from U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.); Professor Ussif Rashid Sumaila, director of the University of British Columbia Fisheries Center and 2017 Volvo Environment Prize Winner; Dr. Sören Gutekunst, GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research in Kiel; Dr. Lisa Svensson, director for Ocean, United Nations Environment Program; Wendy Schmidt, president of The Schmidt Family Foundation and co-founder of the Schmidt Ocean Institute; Jason Rolfe, Mid-Atlantic regional coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Marine Debris Program; Lewis Perkins, president of Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute; and Christopher Wahlborg, business manager, automotive, Stena Recycling. 

For the first time the Volvo Ocean Race will be live streaming this innovative Ocean Summit event at the stopover in Newport. Alongside groundbreaking announcements, viewers will hear Charlie Enright, skipper of Vestas 11th Hour Racing, and Dee Caffari, skipper of Turn the Tide on Plastic, talk about their experiences with ocean plastic pollution. They will be answering questions submitted online. This session will be streamed on Facebook Live from 9:00 to 10:10 a.m. EST on Friday, May 18, with the entire Ocean Summit streamed at volvooceanrace.com.

"Years ago, no one knew keel clearing drills to remove plastic debris would be part of the reality of ocean racing. The Volvo Ocean Race brings exciting economic activity to Rhode Island and a renewed awareness about how we affect our oceans," Whitehouse said. "I'm grateful to Volvo and the world-class sailing teams for focusing on our need to keep our shorelines and open ocean clear of plastic debris."

Whitehouse is co-author of the bipartisan Save Our Seas Act, which passed the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent last summer. The act would boost the United States' national and international response to the marine debris crisis.

Professor Dennis Nixon, Rhode Island sea grant director for the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, will open and close the event, and a brief film will introduce the Volvo Ocean Race Sustainability Program. Lundstedt will join Richard Brisius, president of the Volvo Ocean Race, and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo in welcoming attendees to the summit. 

The Volvo Ocean Race is one of the world's most demanding team sporting events. Newport is the only North American stopover during this nine-month race, which began in Alicante, Spain, and will end in The Hague, Netherlands.

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