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Remarks by AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk at 2023 Ocean Challenge

June 1, 2023

Remarks by AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk
at 2023 Ocean Challenge
June 1, 2023

(As Delivered)


Minister Kuan, Deputy Minister Hong, distinguished guests, student participants: good morning, zao an.

I am very pleased to be here today in person at the launch of the fifth Ocean Challenge event, a joint event between the American Institute in Taiwan and the Ocean Affairs Council. I am particularly excited to be here this year, to mark the return to an in-person format after two years of virtual Ocean Challenges due to pandemic restrictions.  It is an absolute pleasure to be able to see so many promising young faces in the audience today.

Since I first lived here in the nineties, Taiwan has developed into an advanced economy and a vibrant democracy, and the U.S.-Taiwan partnership has steadily broadened and deepened.  The United States and Taiwan share many values, including respect for rule of law, a commitment to free and fair trade, and support for civil liberties, at home and around the world.

Our shared values also include a shared desire to protect and preserve our planet for future generations by reducing harmful emissions and conserving our natural resources.  Chief among those natural resources is our oceans, the protection of which is critical to ensuring a sustainable future.

The climate crisis is an ocean crisis.  We must combat greenhouse gas emissions and their impact — including ocean warming, sea level rise, and ocean acidification.  These challenges are global in nature and thus require a global response.  To make real progress we need sustained, coordinated efforts from officials, experts, civil society, and private sector partners around the world.  For all of this to happen, we need involvement from youth innovators like you here today.  We need you to push your leaders to take action on ocean conservation and we need you to become the next generation of experts, activists, and public or private sector leaders who will contribute creative solutions to these vexing challenges.

That is why we are holding the Ocean Challenge.  This event is designed to raise awareness among youth of the critical issues confronting our oceans and to inspire your engagement.  By doing this, Ocean Challenge will allow us to leverage one of Taiwan’s greatest resources — its talented and innovative youth.  If we are going to protect our oceans, we need your creativity, your passion, and most importantly, your involvement.

So I would like to thank the OAC for their continued partnership and support for this important youth-focused endeavor.  As a result of our close partnership, the Ocean Challenge event has grown and expanded every year.

What started off as a regional high-school event has now evolved into a robust competition of teams of high-school and college students and young adults from across Taiwan, as well as international teams from countries all over the world.  I look forward to continuing our collaboration with OAC to further develop this important initiative and to create new opportunities to advance our common goals on environmental protection.

The United States will continue to work closely with Taiwan and our other partners around the world to advance ocean conservation and other global environmental issues.  And I sincerely hope that all of you here today will join this effort and strive to make a positive contribution to the global community.

Once again, I want to thank Minister Kuan, Deputy Minister Hong, and the Ocean Affairs Council for their leadership on this issue and for their close cooperation and partnership with AIT.

To the students participating in this year’s competition, thank you for your enthusiasm and your willingness to get involved.  I hope your participation in Ocean Challenge has sparked in you an even greater interest in the environment and in our collective stewardship of this planet.  I encourage all of you to continue applying your creativity to solving some of the greatest challenges that confront mankind.

Thank you.  Xiexia dajia.