Sky and National Geographic work together to fight ocean plastic

Sky and National Geographic have announced that they are to join forces in the fight to eradicate the destructive impact of plastic litter in the world’s oceans and that National Geographic will commit $10 million to bring its scientific expertise, grants and media reach to support the activities of Sky Ocean Ventures.

Sky Ocean Ventures was launched in March 2018 with a £25 million cornerstone commitment from Sky and the objective of seeking out investment opportunities in businesses that can help solve the ocean plastic crisis. The National Geographic Society joins the effort and will bring together its global network of scientists and academics to support the fund’s vision, along with a financial commitment focused on activity that aligns with its mission, values and objectives. Activities will include:

• Grants: Targeted funding will be made available with the National Geographic Society and Sky issuing calls for proposals that will measurably reduce plastic pollution before it reaches the ocean. Priority will be given to projects that aim to develop solutions to help stop plastic from reaching waterways through improved recycling, waste management or other means as well as innovative methods that engage stakeholders to create solutions that dramatically reduce plastic use and/or input into watersheds

• Innovation Challenges: A series of Innovation Challenges issued to the best talents and minds around the globe will identify, award and support groundbreaking technologies designed to reduce plastic waste and its impact on oceans. Challenges will address the myriad inefficiencies in the plastics value chain from material innovation and product design to consumer use and collection

• Events: A series of events will convene and engage industry leaders, corporations, institutions and foundations focused on the issue of marine plastic pollution

With its expertise in research and grants management, together with its historical perspective and legacy in conservation, the National Geographic Society is uniquely positioned to serve the objectives of this campaign.

This latest collaboration builds on the grassroots grants programme Sky and the National Geographic Society launched in the fall of 2017 to select 10 young academics to run marine-based research projects, underpinned by funding and support from National Geographic. Three of the grantees have subsequently been awarded an additional Sky Ocean Rescue Scholarship and will receive supplementary funding and mentoring from Sky to enhance the impact of their research.

The Sky Ocean Rescue Scholars were announced on stage at National Geographic’s Festival of Science in Rome and include:

Imogen Napper, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, United Kingdom

o Project Title: How Effective New Technologies are at Capturing Released Synthetic Microplastic Fibers from Domestic Washing Machines.

Martina Capriotti, University of Camerino, San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy

o Project Title: An Innovative Approach for Testing Microplastic Hazardousness in the Adriatic Sea.

Annette Fayet, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

o Project Title: Why are Puffins Going Extinct? Combining Novel Technology and Machine Learning to Understand the Cause Behind Long-Lasting declines in an Endangered Seabird.

As part of this collaboration, National Geographic Partners will also use its authentic and inspirational storytelling, award-winning photography and renowned journalism to shine a spotlight on this critical issue and the innovative solutions the Sky Ocean Ventures collaboration aims to enable.

Collectively, this new collaboration will create the largest global media campaign to date to reduce plastic litter in the ocean.

Speaking on the collaboration, Sky’s Group Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch said: “National Geographic is a world leader in science and exploration with expertise, knowledge and credibility that only comes from spending over a century protecting our planet. I’m excited that we share the same vision and understand the pressing need to take action and find meaningful solutions to the plastics problem. Together, we will create real impact, and I look forward to bringing other financial and non-financial partners on board.”

Gary Knell, CEO of National Geographic Partners, added: “Sky Ocean Ventures is a bold new project that will support breakthrough thinking and invest in new ideas aimed at the impact plastic is having on our oceans and marine life. National Geographic will use our global media portfolio to encourage conservation of our oceans and exploration of new ways to be better stewards of the world in which we live.”

Jonathan Baillie, Chief Scientist and SVP, Grants and Exploration at the National Geographic Society added: “This is a unique opportunity to build upon National Geographic Society’s 130-year history of investing in bold people with transformative ideas and using the power of our storytellers to help achieve a planet in balance. By 2025, Sky and National Geographic will have helped to bring pledges of people taking action to reduce their own plastic footprint, helped transform the way businesses deal with their supply chain and innovation as far as plastic is concerned and will have invested in or supported technologies with high potential to be transformational.”

Through Sky Ocean Rescue, Sky will continue to inspire simple, everyday changes that will stop our oceans from drowning in plastic. Sky is leading by example as the first FTSE 100 company to commit to transforming its own business to be free from single-use plastics by 2020. This means that 1,000 tonnes of plastic will be removed from its supply chain and operation — the equivalent weight of seven blue whales. Sky are encouraging and supporting innovation to develop solutions through Sky Ocean Ventures and we are working to influence others to take action.

Sky Ocean Rescue follows the successful Sky Rainforest Rescue campaign which, with the support of its customers, raised over £9m to help save one billion trees in the Amazon rainforest. Ten years ago, Sky became the world’s first carbon neutral media company and is currently listed in the top 8 of sustainable businesses in Newsweek’s Green Rankings, Silver Class in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and included within the FTSE4Good.


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