by Louisa Montagu-Pollock*
The world faces an unprecedented set of challenges, from a global pandemic and rampant income inequality, to man-made climate change and the destruction of natural ecosystems.
Did you know that 10% of global society still lives in extreme poverty, that 8 million tons of plastic is deposited into the ocean each year, or that an area the size of a football pitch is deforested every second?
In this interconnected age, our problems are interconnected too. The huge amounts of plastic which find their way into our ocean do not just damage marine life, they threaten livelihoods and even find their way into our food chain too. Meanwhile, more than 70 million people are forced to flee war and conflict around the globe – taking them out of economies and taxation systems which might help drive sustainable change.
To respond to the scale and complexity of our global challenges, the United Nations has created a framework in which to tackle them: 17 Sustainable Development Goals, to create a healthier, greener, more equal and more prosperous planet by 2030.
In our increasingly interlinked world, collective action is now needed more than then ever to combat global problems and propel us towards the resolutions we desperately need. If the answers are out there, how can we discover them, and capitalize on a global pool of skills, energy and knowledge?
UpLink is a response to this demand; a new digital platform to surface the best ideas and solutions for pressing issues and connect them to the world’s decision makers.
To kick things off, UpLink has launched a competition to first find solutions for our seas, through the Ocean Solutions Sprint. Covering nearly three-quarters of the world’s surface, the ocean is by far our largest natural ecosystem, the engine of our weather systems and a barometer of the planet’s health.
That barometer does not make for reassuring reading at the moment: rising water temperatures, deoxygenation, over-fishing, plastic pollution and coral-reef bleaching are just a few of the current challenges which need to be solved.
In its first two weeks, the competition has provided us with a glimpse into the breadth and depth of ideas and solutions out there. Submissions have come in from all types of projects and start-ups, from all corners of the world: Peru, Myanmar, the Netherlands, Cameroon, Kenya, the USA, to name just a few. Each submission offers a unique and creative approach to combatting ocean issues.
Entrepreneurs are using drones and satellites to monitor ocean health and illegal fishing, they’re transforming shrimp shell waste into foam packaging, reusing plastic waste to build boats for local fishing communities, sandblasting paint from oil rig structures to prevent micro-plastic pollution, and creating artificial coral reefs through art.
We’re currently reviewing this eclectic range of submissions and you can help us by endorsing your favourite.
*Marketing and Communications Specialist, UpLink
**first published in: www.weforum.org