A busy Day Three at Omina Summit kicked off with a presentation about Cocos Island by the Fundación Amigos Isla del Coco (FAICO), an island designated as a National Park off the shore of Costa Rica. The island, particularly great for diving, is the stuff of Jurassic Park legend, and has incredibly diverse biodiversity that the government seeks to protect. It is home to 235 plant species, 400 insect species, five species of reptiles, and 100 species of birds. Its waters have three species of sea turtles, 50 species of mollusks, more than 30 species of coral, 60 species of crustaceans, and 250 species of fish. The foundation urged the audience to help the their work by spreading the message about Cocos and supporting their programs and projects.
The focus on the oceans continued with the morning's first conversation with Oskar Metsavaht and Livia Firth. Osklen is undoubtedly one of the top names when you think about sustainable fashion in Brazil. The brand was established in 1989 in Rio de Janeiro by Oskar and he is considered to be one of the country's pioneers in sustainability-driven technology and innovation. He is also a physician, and a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. Oskar explained his more positive and ethical take on luxury, noting that it comes from the word "light" and that it is our responsibility as entrepreneurs and creatives to design things in line with a sustainable ethos.
In conversation, Marianne Hernández from PACUNAM (The Foundation for Maya Cultural and Natural Heritage) and Mayi Antillón from IMAGO discussed how sustainable development can be used as a tool for conservation of cultural and natural heritage, and how a laser helped unearth an ancient Mayan civilization. This powerful discovery of the Mayan sites and Hernandez' retelling emphasized that we need to question what we think we know.
The afternoon panel, the 'Future of Textiles', saw Gema Gómez (Slow Fashion Next, Spanish academy of sustainable fashion) with panelists Carmen Hijosa (Piñatex, a textile made out of pineapple fiber), Arianne Engelberg (The New Denim Project, recycled denim), Patricia Ermecheo (Osomtex, textile recycling), Cristian Gutiérrez (EVEA, bio-leather), Martín Ramirez (Cáscara, textiles made with biomass) and Juan Guillermo Chica (Research Professor, Veritas University). EVEA's novel bio-leather is extracted from the Shiringa tree and mixed with natural colors and then dried with the sun. Carmen Hijosa also noted that we should avoid using the word "leather" as that denotes using animal skin.
The final panel, 'Plastic Free Oceans', was moderated by Oskar Metsavaht with panelists Pilar Álvarez-Laso (UNESCO), Melissa Gil y Alexandra Menk (MG Surfline, 100% recycled polyester) Lucy Siegle (UK-based sustainability journalist and author), Carolina Sevilla (5 Minute Beach Cleanup), and Esteban Brenes (Fundación Amigos Isla del Coco). This panel was perhaps the most emotive and heavy-hitting with the audience in light of the recent whale death from plastic consumption. All speakers had useful ideas for decreasing our plastic consumption and urged everyone to bring a bag to the beach and clean up garbage and debris that we find.
The day ended with a series of recognitions. The foundation of Cocos Island presented a World Natural Heritage Site Award to Oskar Metsavaht for his work in marine conservation, and an Eco-Age Award to Costa Rica was received by the Costa Rican government.
By the day's end, the question on everyone's mind was "what's next?" Inspired by the sense of community that was created and the exciting sustainability projects undertaken by everyone, we held a roundtable in Carmen's suite to discuss how we can create more impact and implement more change on the ground. Attended by Oskar Metsavaht, Donna Karan, Petra Nemcova, Celina De Sola, Livia Firth, Omina co-founder Andrea Somma and several other notable speakers and influencers in the sustainability space, there was talk of creating a special network to allow us to provide resources to new entrepreneurs and seasoned figures alike. Stay tuned.