Candidate Profile

Ecology & Conservation
Science - General
Mr. Woodring is the Founder and Managing Director of Ocean Recovery Alliance, a non-profit organization which is focused on bringing innovative solutions, technology, collaborations and policy together to impact positive improvements for the health of the ocean. He is the winner of the prestigious 2018 Prince Albert Prize for Innovative Philanthropy for his work with the ocean, and is a United Nations Environment (UNEP) Climate Hero, a Google Earth Hero, and was recently inducted into the Int’l Open Water Swimming Hall of Fame.

Mr. Woodring speaks to audiences of all ages and backgrounds, from school children to public officials and CEOs. He has a sense of humor and engagement with the audience which help to bring large, global issues down to "size," for better understanding and discussion. Good question and answer sessions are a key part of his talks, as his background with a wide range of activities and stakeholders gives him deep understanding and stories to speak about. As an "environmental entrepreneur," his mind is always open to creating new programs that solve different problems for all types of stakeholders and communities.

As an environmental entrepreneur, and has created a number of ongoing programs, the most recent of which are the Inland Ocean Festival in Cambodia, and the Harvest Plastic programs for village households in S. E. Asia to recover plastic in creative, engaged ways. Two of the group’s international programs were launched at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2010, the Global Alert platform (one of the only apps in the world to allow the reporting of trash hotspots, anywhere in the world’s waterways and coastlines), and the Plastic Disclosure Project. Mr. Woodring has been on the advisory board of the XPrize, and The Economist’s World Oceans Summit, and in 2011, he co-authored the United Nations Environmental Program Yearbook chapter on the danger of plastic in the ocean.

He has worked in Asia for over 30, and continues to compete internationally in outrigger canoe racing and swimming, and has been nominated three times as World Open Water Swimmer of the Year for his innovative contributions to the sport, and was named as one of the top 50 “watermen” in the world.

Born in Northern California, Mr. Woodring has a dual master’s degree from The Wharton School (MBA) and Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) where he studied Environmental Economics. He has an undergraduate degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley.

1) Plastic – The Material that Binds the Planet
An estimated 8 million tons of plastic enters the ocean each year, most of it coming from land. Plastic is valued for its light weight, durability and wide-spread use across industries, but its impact as waste and pollution is felt around the world, impacting our waters, ecosystem and own health. The challenges of improvement are complex, but the link to human touch, visibility and emotion are much stronger than that of carbon and climate change. The opportunities for involvement and improvement are also great, once we focus on localized solutions in a collective manner. Learn about the impacts to animals, birds and our communities, but also how this issue can unify and empower ideas which can benefit our communities across many topics of environmental challenge. Complete with pictures and video from around the world which create a story of understanding, hope and excitement to be part of the solution.

2) The Art of Creative Surprise – Using Art, Theater, Visuals or Music to Inspire Environmental Stewardship
Art for awareness, and characters that can inspire, can cut across communities, nationalities and ideologies, and can be used very effectively in inspiring change. Learn how different mediums, and the engagement of “artists”, or actors in the community who are “artistic/messaging" individuals, has the power to spread the message of environmental appreciation across all types of stakeholder groups. Art for Awareness can reach people from all aspects of communities, and can be easily be replicated across borders via plays, puppet shows and music which can inspire change in creative and fun ways. Indigenous populations have collaborated with nature for centuries, but our modern lifestyles often lead us to forget the power of this link. Come learn about the incredible tools of nature, and how nature’s dialogue with our communities can be integrated to improve our environment.

3) If Nature Can Talk
The ecosystems we live in send us many messages, but our busy daily lives often steer us away from understanding the nuances embedded in nature’s call for support. Learn some of the secrets of the ocean, and how the silent majority of ocean birds and animals are able to help us understand our own communities. This discussion will include visuals that inspire, sadden and draw curiosity, all in a positive, educational manner which will broaden ocean appreciation among all generations, regardless of their normal proximity to the ocean in their daily lives.

4) How You can Become an Ocean Ambassador
Whether living near the coast, or far inland, anyone can become an Ocean Ambassador. Simply being on a cruise might not mean that the ocean is something you think of engaging with in your daily lives, but this talk can empower your creativity in being an ocean advocate. How and when you decide to use your “ocean ambassadorship” to share with others is entirely up to you, but you will learn about some of the difficulties the ocean faces, and how your activities as consumers can help, and how you might be able to represent the ocean in your peer groups. Be inspired by visuals of life In, On and Under the water, and how you might be able to use your new knowledge to excite others about our Blue Front Yard – the ocean.

5) WestBound Rower - in the summer of 2022, Erden Eruc, a Turkish American, started rowing his solo rowboat across the Pacific Ocean to meet Mr. Woodring in Hong Kong. Already holding 15 World Records for traveling around the world, he set out to be the first to cross the Pacific Ocean, north of the Equator, from the US to the Asian Continent. As and Ocean Ambassador for Mr. Woodring's Ocean Recovery Alliance non-profit organization, Mr. Woodring was the head of the support team in Asia, and built a 32-week, tri-lingual education program for students and adults about Erden's weekly challenges, adventures and experiences. Mr. Woodring will speak about Erden's adventure - one which is ongoing today, as he will row from the Philippines to Vietnam in February 2023, and then bicycle to Europe, before rowing across the Atlantic Ocean. All in the name of ocean conservation and awareness building.
Mr. Woodring speaks around the world on the topics of ocean protection, with a focus on plastic pollution issues and solutions. He has been a speaker at numerous environmental conferences including: Annual Plasticity Forums, the Naropa Monk Festival, WasteMinz, AreDay Summit, The Economist World Ocean Summit, China World Economic Forum, UN Blue Economy Conference, Bloomberg Business Week Annual Forum, UN-NOAA Marine Debris Conference, Klosters Forum, Pacific Islands Roundtable, Sustainable Brands Bangkok, CSR Asia, Responsible Business Forum, Earth Day Texas, South Carolina Aquarium, Monterey Bay Aquarium, SalesForce, World Forum for a Responsible Economy, APEC Waste Management Conference, PEMSEA, PET Recycling Conference, Morgan Stanley, Plastics Industry Assoc., Prince of Wales Conference on Plastic
Pollution, World Plastics Industry Global Meeting, U.S. State Department's “Our Ocean” Conference, World Ocean Summit – Korea, Johns Hopkins, Aspen Environment Forum, TEDx Hong Kong, BIR World Recycling Conference, Ocean Sciences. He also speaks regularly at many
Schools, universities, associations, corporate in-house events, and workshops.