Jo Royle
Sea Champion and Founder of Common Seas

Sea Champion with over 10 years experience spearheading global marine programmes through identifying critical marine issues, aligning senior experts, generating income and, engineering solutions to reduce human impact on the sea.  Transforms big visions into innovative, practical and deliverable strategies.  Diverse skills in leading resilient teams and creating policies including navigating South Georgia, inventing fisheries conservation strategies and reducing plastic pollution.

Jo spent over a decade in her first career clocking up around a hundred thousand sea miles as a sponsored ocean racing and expedition skipper. Witnessing first-hand the build-up of plastic on the world’s most remote beaches, such as those in the Antarctic, fuelled her to move ashore to deliver solutions towards maintaining productive oceans.

Jo was part of the small team that designed and built world’s first ‘closed loop’ trans-ocean sailing vessel – the Plastiki. This United Nations recognised, global solutions-driven, awareness campaign on ocean plastic reached millions of people. She skippered the crew of five as they proved the material properties of the vessel by surviving hurricane force winds while sailing for three months from San Francisco to Sydney.

Subsequently, Jo led Pew Charitable Trusts' Global Ocean Legacy UK campaign to secure the Government's commitment to designate the world's largest fully protected marine reserve, the Pitcairn Islands. 

She holds a Master's degree in Environmental Science and Society from University College London. She has worked with brands including Nike, L'Oreal, and Inmarsat to improve their socio-ecological value and has featured on the BBC, National Geographic, Vogue, Time and TEDx. In 2012, she was awarded the Geddes Environmental Medal. Through a love of being hands on and a curious mind she supports system solutions to craft a world where people live in harmony with each other and the sea.

Jo's LinkedIn profile

Media coverage

The Plastiki Voyage: Marine Debris Is Our Problem, The Huffington Post, 06.2010

My Story: Jo Royle, Harpers Bazaar 11.2010

Vicky Long

Vicky is a producer, working across the arts and media. She was Project Director of Cape Farewell during their founding years from 2005-09 and since then has specialised in producing work which has an ecological focus. She enjoys working with a wide range of artists and collaborators to create work which nudges at change. Clients include the Eden Project, Southbank Centre, Siobhan Davies Dance, Forma, BBC and the Open University.

Sophie Thomas
Co-founder Ocean Friendly Design Forum

Sophie has been working in the fields of ethical and sustainable design, behaviour change and material processes through her design agency, Thomas.Matthews for twenty years.

A long-term interest in materials led Sophie to share her experience of closed loop thinking with other designers. In 2012, she founded The Great Recovery, a programme that looked to build capacity and understanding around circular design in the materials supply chain and investigating the impact of design in a circular economy system. This project ran for four years, supported by Innovate UK and the RSA where Sophie became Director of Design and Circular Economy. Through her work Sophie has become a leader in sustainable product and process design advising industries across all sectors how they can consider designing from a closed loop perspective. Sophie has an in-depth knowledge of material use and how to reduce the impact of design on the environment.

Sophie has been included on numerous lists such as Design Week’s HOT 50, I.D’s 50 under 30 and Top Waste influencers. She is included on the Who’s Who and Who’s Who Business Elite list since 2008 and was on the board of trustees for the Design Council between 2008 and 2011. She is currently on the board of trustees for WRAP. Sophie plays a vocal part in promoting sustainable thinking in the design industry and regularly takes part in conferences and workshops all around the world. She has also been part of many judging panels including the prestigious London Design Medal, Design Week, D&AD white pencil awards and international graphic design awards including ICOGRADA and Jump the Gap Design competition. In 2016 she was awarded an honorary fellowship of UAL.

Sophie has assisted global businesses and UK government organisations to define the role of designers within discussions around waste streams, resource efficiency and circular economies, and has worked with major organisations including Proctor and Gamble, Howies and Samsung on new models for circular business, internal communication of sustainable systems and external sustainability campaigns. Her work at the RSA has led to her being design advisor for DEFRA’s Circular Economy Task Force and on the committee for the ‘Industry Evolution’ report published in October 2015. In 2014 Sophie became one of the first designers to become a Chartered Waste Manager (CIWM) for her work around designing out waste streams and circular system design and for the last two years has been nominated for CIWM’s Industry Leader of the Year.

Curiosity sent her to Kamilo beach, Hawaii in 2014 to see for herself the true impact of plastic on the oceans and she has subsequently created an exhibition, Never Turn Your back on the Ocean