Join the Hackathon

Throughout November and December 2023, Back to Blue will publish a series of short surveys. Each survey focuses on a different aspect of the roadmap. We drew upon five expert workshops held between June and September and the initial findings of the UN Ocean Decade’s Working Group on marine pollution to design the surveys.

Each takes only a few minutes of your time. You can participate in one or all of the surveys – it is up to you. We welcome comments from all interested parties, particularly from respondents in the global south. Please share the surveys widely with your network to ensure a robust co-design process.


Watch this short message from Peter Thompson, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, on why it is critical to close the marine pollution data gap and how you can help.

Survey 1: Do you support our call to action?
Share your thoughts

Back to Blue is spearheading a global process to co-design a roadmap to close the marine pollution data gap. Our research, particularly the ground-breaking report, The Invisible Wave, has uncovered the frightening lack of knowledge decision-makers and scientists have about the extent and impact of ocean chemical pollution. Our goal is audacious: to imagine what a globally coordinated effort to close this knowledge gap would look like and take this as a proposal - a step-by-step roadmap - to a global group of policymakers at the UN Ocean Conference in 2025.

In this, the first of six questionnaires, we would like to hear your views on how best to conceptualise the roadmap.

Take the survey

Survey 2: Grounded in science - driven by data
Share your thoughts

Closing the marine pollution data gap will require a science-based approach that effectively leverages existing pollution data sources and knowledge. Back to Blue convened two expert workshops, which recommended that the roadmap focus on:

Geospatial priorities: A phased approach to closing the marine pollution data gap should be included, beginning in estuaries and coastal zones, moving to existing and emerging marine pollution hotspots in the open ocean, and finally encompassing the entire ocean.

Monitoring and sampling protocols: The development of a simple, global standard sampling protocol for marine pollution and the establishment of a global, extensive time series on ocean pollution.

Chemicals of concern: The roadmap should strike a balance between prioritising the study of pollutants which are known to have adverse effects on ocean health and undertaking broad-based monitoring to identify emerging pollutants of concern.

How to achieve these aims, and what areas to prioritise given limited resources, are important open questions. Please share your feedback.

Take the survey

Read the summary notes from Workshop 1 and Workshop 2.

Survey 3: Institutional arrangements
Share your thoughts

A considerable effort will be required to ensure that the many entities collecting marine pollution data can feed into a global initiative to map marine pollution and that they can successfully adhere to FAIR guiding principles (findability, accessibility, interoperability and reusability of data) to bring consistency and comparability to the data.

This survey, which follows an expert workshop on the same theme, asks:

  • What governance structures will be needed?
  • Who should be responsible for creating and operating a global marine pollution data framework?
  • How would this work?

Take the survey

Read the summary notes from Workshop 3.

Survey 4: Engaging the private sector and other non-government actors
Share your thoughts (coming soon)

The private sector and other non-government organisations must be part of the effort to close the marine pollution data gap. Businesses and investors will be essential data end-users, and ensuring this process meets their needs will be critical to its success. Businesses and NGOs are often important data owners, and technology companies will be vital to effectively collect, analyse, store and disseminate marine pollution data.

This survey partly draws on expert workshop 4, ‘Technology to increase the visibility of marine chemical pollution,’ yet Back to Blue has identified this as an area that requires the input of a far wider group of stakeholders. Please do share this survey widely with your colleagues.

Take the survey (coming soon)

Read the summary notes from Workshop 4.

Survey 5: Options for funding and implementation
Share your thoughts (coming soon)

Closing the marine pollution data gap is not Back to Blue’s end goal; it is simply a means to an end. Developing a roadmap that is unusable or a database that is unused will not contribute to tackling marine pollution. Two critical questions then remain: what steps must be taken to increase the likelihood that the roadmap is implemented? And how will this process be financed?

Take the survey (coming soon)

Read the summary notes from Workshop 5.

Survey 6: The road to 2025 and beyond
Share your thoughts (coming soon)

Back to Blue’s goal is that marine pollution - beyond plastic - will be central to the agenda at the UN Ocean Conference in Nice in 2025. This roadmap will provide a thorough grounding that supports conference delegates to produce tangible outcomes. Beyond 2025, it will be critical that the roadmap aligns with the UN Ocean Decade and other significant opportunities for collaboration and amplification. This, the final survey in our hackathon series, will consider what an ambitious but realistic timeline looks like, what the key long-term milestones should be, and what steps can be taken to ensure they can be achieved.

Take the survey (coming soon)

Read the summary notes from Workshop 5.


Back to Blue’s role in closing the marine pollution data gap is as a catalyst and convenor. Ultimately, it will be the responsibility of the broad universe of ocean stakeholders – of UN agencies, governments, scientists, businesses, investors and NGOs – to realise this ambition. If you would like to share your ideas or discuss how you can contribute to this process, don’t hesitate to contact our team.


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