“Back to Blue is an initiative of Economist Impact and The Nippon Foundation, bringing together two organisations that share a common understanding of the need to improve evidence-based approaches and solutions to the pressing issues faced by the ocean and to restore ocean health and promote sustainability. The initiative will focus initially on aspects of the vexing challenge of pollution.”
Since its establishment in 2021, “Back to Blue” has emphasised its activities around ocean pollution and promoting ocean health- specifically around these three critical issues: plastic pollution, chemical pollution, and ocean acidification.
The two surveys conducted in January 2021, one for the industry and public sector executives and the other for the general public to gauge their views around the vital ocean issues, show that 83% of the general public expressed either “concern” or “very concerned” about issues affecting the ocean. Respondents also identified three top priorities: plastic pollution (59.6%), chemical pollution (39.1%), and ocean acidification from climate change (31.1%), for restoring ocean health within the next five years.
Marine chemical pollution
There are 350,000 chemicals registered for production and use. Each year, millions of tonnes of chemical pollutants are released from human activities.
Chemical pollution emerges from many economic sectors, including mining, fashion, agriculture and manufacturing. Heavy metals like lead, manufactured chemicals like pesticides and radioactive waste, to name a few, all harm human life and ecosystems. Most chemical pollution starts on land, from where it can work into rivers and oceans. Even plastic waste becomes chemical waste over time, degrading and breaking into tiny microplastic particles.
The Black to Blue initiative presents an interactive Plastics Management Index, which measures and contrasts the efforts made by a selection of 25 countries at different stages of development in their management of plastics, covering the entire lifecycle of plastic products.
Its goal is to assess each country’s capacity to minimise plastics mismanagement or leakages across the plastics lifecycle while promoting the optimal production and use of plastic as a resource. In so doing, it views the issue through the lens of policy, regulation, and business practice while incorporating consumer actions and perspectives.
Why Action on ocean acidification is crucial
Ocean acidification is a growing threat to many marine life and communities that rely on them for food, jobs and economic well-being. Ocean acidification directly results from the ever-increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from human activity.
Up to 30% of carbon released into the atmosphere each year is absorbed by the ocean, which helps to mitigate global warming. However, the ocean’s ability to sequester carbon cannot keep pace with rising emission volumes.1 The result is a decline in the pH level of seawater and a rise in its acidity.
Good progress has been made in the above areas, yet significant gaps in knowledge and action still need to be addressed. The partnership between The Economist, a global media organisation, and the Nippon Foundation, recognised for its global leadership on the ocean, will set measurable and actionable objectives to accelerate global environmental action.
The Black to Blue website presents reports, interactive maps, videos, and podcasts centred around their mission to address ocean pollution and improve ocean health.
These resources offer practical help and support for governments, policymakers, NGOs, environmental advocates, researchers, scientists, students, and anyone who wants to do their part in protecting and preserving the oceans for many generations to come.
Visit the website Black to Blue: Caring for the Ocean.