Solving Water Together: Leadership for a Clean Water Future

September 18, 2020 1:00 PM


Protecting the health of our aquatic ecosystems and access to clean water is one of the greatest global challenges of our time. As Matt Damon said in the film Brave Blue World, “How lucky are we that we’re the ones who get to solve this?” Join Philippe Cousteau and EarthEcho International as we host a speaker panel of innovators and change-makers to engage with students across the world as we explore solutions to the global water crisis and connect youth to their local bodies of water through the EarthEcho Water Challenge. This event will be moderated by EarthEcho Water Challenge Ambassador Ivanya Johnson


Philippe Cousteau

Co-Founder, EarthEcho International

Inspired by the legacy of his grandfather Jacques Cousteau, Philippe is an multi Emmy-Nominated TV host and producer as well as an author, speaker, and social entrepreneur.

He and his wife Ashlan are the stars of The Travel Channel’s newest series Caribbean Pirate Treasure.  It follows the Cousteaus as they travel around the Caribbean, diving into maritime mysteries, exploring pirate histories and investigating the lore of lost treasures. Winner of a Cynopsis Media Award for Best Adventure Reality Series, the show’s second season premiers in summer 2018.  In addition, Philippe is the host and executive producer of the multi-Emmy nominated series Awesome Planet, now filming its fifth season which is syndicated on Fox and Hulu.

Philippe and Ashlan’s latest project is a new Virtual Reality series in partnership with Jaunt VR.  This new adventure series called, The Last Of… will explore some of the world’s most endangered animals.

Philippe is also producer and host of a three-part series exploring innovation for sustainability in business sponsored by United Technologies.

In 2016 Philippe teamed up with his wife Ashlan to co-host Nuclear Sharks, the #1 show for Discovery’s Shark Week. In 2015, they co-hosted a three-part series with, exploring tiger and rhino conservation in Nepal called Treasures of the Terai.

As a special correspondent for CNN, he has hosted several award-winning shows, including Going Green and Expedition Sumatra. Philippe has also hosted and produced television programs for Animal Planet and the 8- part series Oceans for the BBC and Discovery Channel.

Philippe has served as a consultant on a select group of international resort developments where he advises on best practices for social and environmental sustainability and his team designs immersive and meaningful 21st century experiences that leverage local environmental and cultural assets to redefine destinations.

In 2012 he was the president and spokesperson of the US Pavilion at the Yeosu World Expo in South Korea.  His firm designed, built and operated the Pavilion in partnership with the United States Department of State.

As an author, Philippe latest children’s book, Follow the Moon Home has been chosen for the prestigious Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List.  In addition, he has co-written two award-winning books, Going Blue and Make a Splash, both of which have won multiple awards, including Learning Magazine’s 2011 Teachers’ Choice Award for the Family, a Gold Nautilus Award, and a 2010 ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Gold Award.

His conservation efforts are focused on solving global social and environmental problems. In 2004 he founded EarthEcho International, a leading environmental education organization dedicated to inspiring youth to take action for a sustainable planet.

Philippe is a sought-after speaker having hosted and keynoted various events for the United Nations, Harvard University, the University of Florida, the Society of Environmental Journalists, The Economist Magazine global summit, and countless corporate events and global conferences. He has testified before Congress several times and most recently presented at TEDx Pennsylvania Ave.

Philippe and his wife, fellow adventurer and TV host Ashlan Gorse-Cousteau, reside in Los Angeles, California

Ivanya Johnson

Youth Leadership Council Member

Ivanya Johnson is an aspiring Marine Biologist and Shark Conservationist and an upcoming Junior at Hawai'i Pacific University. She is a certified Rescue Diver and has been volunteering at Fort Fisher Aquarium for five years. She is also a certified Water Safety and Swim Instructor through the American Red Cross and a volunteer with Love A Sea Turtle. Ivanya created an organization called 'Minority Matters Scuba' where she educates minority youth and their parents about the ocean, sharks, marine sciences, and so much more.

Ifetayo Venner

Vice President, Arcadis

Ifetayo Venner is a Vice President with Arcadis, a global design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets, and serves as both Wastewater Service Line Leader and Water Sustainability leader for the Water business line. She has led the planning and design of municipal wastewater treatment and reuse facilities throughout the United States. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Water Environment Federation (WEF), an organization with over 35,000 members and 75 member associations around the world, and the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure’s Envision Review Board. Ifetayo is a licensed professional engineer in Florida and Texas, an Envision Sustainability Professional, and has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from McGill University, a master’s degree in environmental engineering and science from Stanford University, and an MBA (with a concentration in management and sustainability) from the University of South Florida.

Gitanjali Rao

Student, Inventor, and Innovator

Gitanjali is 14 years old from Colorado, USA. She was honored as America's Top Young Scientist and EPA Presidential award for inventing her device "Tethys"; an early lead detection tool. Gitanjali is also the inventor for Epione - a device for early diagnosis of prescription opioid addiction using genetic engineering and is conducting research at the University of Colorado. She recently launched "Kindly" an anti-cyberbullying service using AI and Natural Language processing.
She was honored as Forbes 30 under 30 in Science in 2019 and TIME Top Young Innovator for her innovation sessions she conducts globally which has inspired 30,000 students in the last 2 years across 3 continents. In her sessions, she shares her own process of innovation that can be used by students all over the world. She is a 4 time TED speaker and speaks often in global and corporate forums on innovation and the importance of STEM.

Gitanjali recently was selected as a partner for Forbes Ignite Network where she is piloting a concept called Empathy Sharktank that helps in employee-employer engagement and staff development for start-ups and schools.  

Joe Vesey

Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Xylem, Inc.

Joe Vesey was named Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Xylem in January 2015. Mr. Vesey leads the Company’s marketing functionincluding vertical marketing, commercial IT, global public affairs, branding,communications, digital marketing and commercial excellence. He currentlyserves as Chair of the Xylem Watermark Committee, which is the company’scorporate citizenship and social investment program. In addition, he co-chairs Xylem’s Diversity & Inclusion committee.

Mr. Vesey joined Xylem in 2008 as Director, Strategy & Business Development. In November 2009, he was named Director, Commercial Excellence, running a transformational sales and marketing change program. In 2011, he was named Chief Marketing Officer of Xylem and from 2013 to 2017 led the Americas Commercial Team with commercial P&L responsibility for Xylem’s Treatment and Transport businesses in North America, South America and Australia.

Prior to joining Xylem, Mr. Vesey worked at General Electric for ten years in a number of commercial positions of increasing responsibility, including Vice President of Access GE (a commercial consulting role), Global Product Manager (GE Water), Global Product Manager for Lexan Sheet, Industry Leader and Regional Sales Leader (GE Plastics).

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from Lehigh University and a
Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Boston University.

Classroom Resources

Know Your Flow Home Water Audit

Audit your water use at home so you can Know Your Flow! Adapted from the Water Planet Challenge Know Your Flow Action Guide, this audit tool is a guide for youth to evaluate their home water use.

Water Efficiency

Science Standards