JAPAN - Media OutReach - 3
March 2021 - Back to Blue, a new initiative from The Economist Group and The Nippon Foundation,
launches today at the 8th annual World Ocean Summit. With an initial
focus on ocean pollution, the three-year collaboration is a response to the
escalating challenges posed by plastic pollution and, less visibly, pollution
from nutrients and chemical contaminants that are damaging ocean life and
ecosystems, and in turn human health. The programme, now under development, has
been supported by findings from a Back to Blue global survey* which place
plastic pollution (59.6% of respondents) and chemical pollution (39.1%) as the
top two concerns, followed by climate change (31.1%).
opportunity to embark on original research, stimulate fresh dialogue and
explore new solutions to the vexing problems posed by pollution in the ocean is
motivating both organizations. The Economist Group, through its World Ocean
Initiative and World Ocean Summit, has been fostering a global conversation on
the greatest challenges facing the seas. The Nippon Foundation--with its diverse
programmes building and nurturing ocean networks, research and
professionals--has a global reputation for championing ocean science and health.
The Back to Blue initiative brings together two organisations that share a common understanding of the need for
evidence-based approaches and solutions to the pressing issues faced by the
ocean, offering a powerful platform from which to accelerate momentum
for improving ocean health.
During remarks at the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two organisations, Yohei Sasakawa, chairman of The Nippon
Foundation, warned that "we are much aware of the land-based problems that
occur around us[...]; however, when it comes to understanding the multifaceted
problems of the ocean that covers 70% of the earth surface, I believe that our
understanding is still very poor. This is already a threat to human security
for every individual on this planet."
Echoing these sentiments, Lord Deighton, chairman of The Economist
Group, said: "We [at The Economist Group] have also developed our own passion
for the ocean. We held our first World Ocean Summit in 2012, after we had
argued in the newspaper that the seas were in trouble, and that human
activities were having a profound impact on ocean health. A decade or so later
we are more committed than ever to our vision of an ocean in robust health and
with a vital economy. The ocean is too big to fail."
Speaking on the Back to Blue initiative at the launch event, Charles
Goddard, editorial director at The Economist Group, noted that "defining and
heading towards a pollution-free ocean is an enormous challenge, as we are
already seeing in the many extraordinary efforts to address plastic pollution.
We hope Back to Blue can contribute vital new knowledge and perspectives on
contaminants in the ocean, and to the global architecture of engagement needed
to address them. The urgency is very real."
* In January 2021, The Economist Group, in
cooperation with The Nippon Foundation, undertook two related surveys--one of
industry and public-sector executives, the other of the general public (global
citizens)--to better understand their views and priorities around key ocean
issues. The survey was conducted to provide a reference point for the Back to
Blue initiative among the global audience we expect to be engaging, as well as
to seek feedback on the direction and relevance of the initiative, and to help
us gauge progress towards our goals.
Survey 1. industry and
Sample size: 1000
Geography: 20% each from North America,,
Europe and Asia-Pacific, 40% Rest of the World
Employment status: Full or part-time
Type of organisation respondents work for:
70% for profit organisations (a
range including minimum 50 each from finance, food (including fisheries) and
beverage, travel (including shipping) and tourism, energy
30% public sector, non-profit
organisations or academia
Survey 2. General Public/ world citizens
each from North America,, Europe and Asia-Pacific, 40% Rest of the World
Age: 50% Millennials (1981-96) and Generation Z (1997-) / 50% Generation X
(1965-80) and Baby Boomers (1946-64)
least 40% male/female
MOU signing ceremony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPUar232EkA&t=3s