CHOW Chat with Nancy Colleton: Check Yes for CHOW

The Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2023 program will explore the ocean-climate connection and how we can make ocean conservation part of climate strategies and nationally determined contributions to address climate change. Nancy Colleton is a member of the 2023 CHOW Advisory Committee and President of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies. We spoke with Nancy about her role on the Advisory Committee, her hopes for this year’s conference, and why you should “check yes” to attend Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2023. Register today at

As a member of this year’s Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW) 2023 Advisory Committee, it has been an honor to be involved with the planning process for this year’s conference from the ground up.   I hope to have the additional honor of spending time with you at CHOW 2023.  

If you are considering joining CHOW 2023 (either in-person in Washington, DC or online via the livestream), here are my insider recommendations as a member of the Advisory Committee why you should check the “yes” box and attend this year’s conference: 

Great Program—In ocean terms, there’s a wave of things happening!  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently awarded the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation a $15 million grant for large marine debris removal. New national marine sanctuaries are undergoing the designation process to protect treasured places in the Pacific, along the West Coast, and in the Great Lakes. New marine species are being discovered daily. It was reported very recently that ocean temperatures continue to rise, raising new concerns for all species. Let’s face it, there’s an abundance of material to cover on the oceans, but crafting these and other topics such as decarbonization and environmental justice into a content-rich program under the Ocean X Climate umbrella is truly valuable and one I think and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation team has aced with the guidance of our CHOW Advisory Committee. 

Thought Leadership—Yes, you can read all about the latest news and see video clips on your phone, but there’s nothing like being there and hearing it real-time straight from the expertsEven better is hearing news, emerging ideas, and initiatives from a diverse group of thought leadersWhether the head of a leading research institution, a coastal community leader, funding organization head, policymaker, entrepreneur, or tribal representative, the CHOW 2023 list of speakers is long. Best yet – as always CHOW is free and open to any member of the public with an interest in our ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes. I for one, am ready to listen and learn and hope you are too. 

Action—The endless list of actions we must take to save the oceans and our planet can be truly overwhelming—plastic cleanup, reducing carbon, protecting species and ecosystems, and advancing monitoring and science, to name just a fewNo doubt CHOW 2023 will include many calls for action for our ocean and for our climate. However, far too often we forget another very important action: Celebrating!  It is another unique and valuable part of CHOWto come together to recognize and applaud leaders and each other for guiding us to a healthier ocean and planetThis year, we can all look forward to applauding the great work of The Honorable Raúl M. Grijalva, U.S. Representative from Arizona; The Honorable Ed Case, U.S. Representative from Hawai’i; Solomon Pili Kahoʻohalahala; and William J. Ailā Jr., all at the 2023 Ocean Awards Gala on World Ocean Day (June 8). 

Impact—At times, the ocean may seem like just a small part of the many challenges before the conservation community. However, two themes that you will see woven throughout the entire CHOW 2023 program are optimism and community.  Why?  Because these two elements are essential to advancing our work.  Recognizing and understanding problems is one thing, but convening a group of experts focused on solutions is game-changing.  In addition, the CHOW 2023 program recognizes that no one organization, sector, state, region, or even nation will solve these challenges alone.  Therefore, CHOW 2023 may not solve every issue before us, but you can bet that our community will be strengthened and expanded, making our collective actions more impactful.