Remarks by Ambassador Phillips at the screening of “Il Sindaco Pescatore”
Rome, July 18, 2016
(As prepared for delivery)
I am honored tonight to offer you a screening of “Il Sindaco Pescatore,” the story of Angelo Vassallo, a fisherman who was unhappy with the way his town in southern Campania was run and decided to do something about it.
During his three terms as mayor of Pollica, Mr. Vassallo pushed for monumental changes. He used his experience as a fisherman and his love of the sea to inspire his campaign against marine pollution through seabed cleaning projects and waste-water treatment. His efforts earned his town a “5-sail” rating from Guida Blu for its historical, environmental, and economic significance, the highest rating possible.
His cleanup was not just focused on the environment, however, but also against criminal corruption that plagued his town.
Unfortunately, not everyone appreciated his efforts. On the evening of September 5th, 2010, assailants shot and killed Mr. Vassallo.
Those fighting against corruption like Mr. Vassallo are an important part of eliminating corruption in public administration. But if we want more people like him coming forward and creating change, we need to find a way to reward them and protect them better.
“Il Sindaco-Pescatore” has brought the connection between environment and corruption into the Italian and now international spotlight. I would like to thank those involved in the film, many of whom are with us tonight, for their exceptional contributions.
I would also like to offer a special thanks to the Vassallo family for supporting this event. No one can understand what you have gone through, but I hope that tonight’s event will honor Angelo Vassallo’s memory and help raise awareness of the importance of protecting our oceans.
Life on Earth depends on the ocean. It feeds billions of people, employs millions of workers, and generates trillions of dollars for the world economy. Unfortunately, there are many challenges facing our oceans, and they know no boundaries. Therefore, it’s clear that we need to come up with global solutions for these global challenges.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry initiated the annual Our Ocean conferences to force the global community to acknowledge the dire threats facing our ocean. The first two meetings were unequivocal successes and created a remarkable wave of commitments on marine conservation.
This year’s conference will urther explore significant ocean challenges – including marine protected areas, sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and climate-related impacts on this ocean – and ways to address them.
We are here tonight to honor Mr. Vassallo and his efforts to try to better our environment and our world. We must keep the momentum going, and better protect our ocean, because our ocean is absolutely essential to life itself.
Even if each of us attempts to continue Mr. Vassallo’s legacy only by cleaning up our communities, our environments, and Our Ocean, as his family has so nobly done, we will forever change our world for the better.
I would now like to invite Mr. Lorenzo Vassallo, Angelo’s nephew, to say a few words.
Following the film, please join me at the Villa for pizza, ice cream, and conversation.