Esri and National Geographic Society Launch Global Storytelling Challenge

by | Aug 17, 2021

Challenge Encourages Use of Geospatial Software to Inspire Ocean Conservation

REDLANDS, Calif.” Covering 70 percent of the planet's surface, the ocean drives weather, provides sustenance, regulates temperature, and supports living organisms as well as societal growth. And while the ocean is the lifeblood of the planet, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists report that more than 80 percent of the ocean is still unexplored. Much of the ocean floor remains uncharted, yet data-driven maps compel people to see why the ocean needs saving, where to start, and what needs to be done, said Dawn Wright, chief scientist of Esri.

To help address this issue, Esri, the global leader in location intelligence, in partnership with the National Geographic Society, has launched the 2021 ArcGIS StoryMaps Challenge for Restoring Our Ocean. The challenge aims to bring new ideas and voices to global ocean conservation efforts while also training more mappers in geospatial technology that can impact change. The future is in the hands of the next generation, so it is important to engage youth globally in creating data-driven solutions for our ocean and our world, continued Wright.

The challenge encourages high school students, college students, and anyone aged 18“24 years to create impactful stories about ocean health”including current threats to the ocean, and existing and potential solutions for its restoration”using Esri technology. Additionally, it will invite these individuals to join the growing #GenGeo movement”a global community of young people with an insatiable drive to seek solutions that build a sustainable future and thriving planet.

A story is a powerful tool for effecting change, influencing opinion, and creating awareness, said Wright. This challenge empowers professionals and students to demonstrate the ocean's true depth and complexity, which is what we need to understand if we hope to save it.

Esri's ArcGIS StoryMaps enables users to integrate maps, data, and other multimedia content with text to tell stories about the world's greatest challenges and highlight or inspire solutions. Challenge participants are encouraged to create an original story from a range of topics such as highlighting change makers in ocean conservation; amplifying the seven ocean literacy principles; or addressing United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to conserve and sustainably use the ocean, seas, and marine resources. Students can leverage data, maps, and other resources from Learn ArcGIS, Esri's online training resource, to build their stories.

The challenge invitation is extended globally. Stories are submitted through two tracks: track 1 is for precollegiate students aged 14“18 years; and track 2 is for students aged 18 years and older enrolled in higher education institutions, or eligible persons 18“24 years old. The submission deadline is October 22, 2021.

Judges will select first-, second-, and third-place winners from among each track's finalists and announce them in December 2021. The five judges include the following:

  • Dawn Wright, Esri Chief Scientist
  • Alex Tait, Geographer at the National Geographic Society
  • Sandra Turner, National Geographic Certified Educator and Global Climate Change Education Leader
  • Charlie Fitzpatrick, K“12 Education Manager at Esri
  • Shelby O'Neil, National Geographic Young Explorer and Founder of the Jr Ocean Guardians

For more information and to submit a story, visit the ArcGIS StoryMaps Challenge for Restoring Our Ocean website.

About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 14,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit [] or follow us on Instagram []Twitter []and Facebook [].

About Esri

Esri, the global market leader in geographic information system (GIS) software, location intelligence, and mapping, helps customers unlock the full potential of data to improve operational and business results. Founded in 1969 in Redlands, California, USA, Esri software is deployed in more than 350,000 organizations globally and in over 200,000 institutions in the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, including Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, nonprofits, and universities. Esri has regional offices, international distributors, and partners providing local support in over 100 countries on six continents. With its pioneering commitment to geospatial information technology, Esri engineers the most innovative solutions for digital transformation, the Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced analytics. Visit us at

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May Issue 2024