I’ve always loved the ocean. But really, who doesn’t? What’s not to love? It provides us with every second breath, and makes the clouds that give us water. And don’t even get me started on all its amazing creatures and beautiful beaches, and the way you feel so absolutely peaceful floating in the salty sea.

Like so many people, I was completely unaware that the ocean, the beating heart of the planet, is dying. While working on a global production, I happened to run into an old friend, Rod Mast, who studies sea turtles. Rod told me the ocean is in serious trouble. Alarmed, I read and watched everything I could find and became unglued. It is as if we declared war on our own life support system. It made me hurt down to my bones.  

My years as a producer kicked into gear, and I got organised. I climbed the steep learning curve and met ocean heroes like Sylvia Earle, and others working tirelessly to help our beautiful ocean. Fellow ocean lover and friend Jimmy Jagger and I had long talks about how the state of the ocean is the world’s biggest crisis and yet no one knows. He bet me if we walked through NYC and asked people what the three biggest problems are with the environment, no one would say 'the ocean'. So I grabbed a cameraman and a producer and set out, only to discover that sadly, he was right. Out of a hundred of people we asked, no one said the ocean.

Clearly we needed a plan. We had a lot of meetings with people in advertising, sponsorship, music, sport, and concert promotions, and a team formed. Four major insights rose to the surface:

  1. The need for funding far outstrips the funding available
  2. Almost no one knows the ocean is in trouble
  3. While huge investment has been made in innumerable ocean conservation efforts there is a lack of funding to finish them, so that they have a future
  4. The fourth is my favorite: We can fix the ocean

Project 0 was founded to open up new sources of revenue for ocean conservation, raise global awareness and ignite behavior change on a massive scale. It could be done, and it could be done quickly.   

Virgin Unite, Ocean Unite, Michele Clarke

Project 0 launched with a concert in London in December 2015. A fabulous energetic crowd danced away to incredible performances by Bernard Fowler, Ronnie Wood, Mick Taylor, The Strypes, Hidden Charms and Will Heard. Cara Delevingne and Jimmy said a few words. A few of Project 0’s conservation partners Blue Marine Foundation, The Nature Conservancy and The Black Fish shared some stories. Press coverage of the event went global, and a more people learned about Project 0 and joined the movement.

Project 0 has a busy 2016, starting with a celebration in New York on June 8th – A Love Affair with World Oceans Day. Project 0 has an amazing, youthful board of directors, and ambassadors who are all movers and shakers who stretch across the planet from London to New York to Singapore. We are pooling our contacts, and passion to fix the mess in the ocean. We believe that the world has too much bad news, so we focus on the positive, walk the walk, and encourage others to join us and do the same.

This is an exciting time. Together we are banding together into a single voice to fix the world’s biggest problem. I personally live for the day we have 30 per cent of the ocean under protection, people are saying "no thanks” to plastic, making informed choices, and having a good time doing it. We can fix the ocean, so let’s do it. It’s time to seize the day and protect and restore the invaluable ocean.

– This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. 

This post is part of a series produced by Virgin Unite in partnership with Ocean Unite, an initiative to unite and activate powerful voices for ocean-conservation action.