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Cannes: “Diplomatic Voice of the Ocean” Panel Highlights Work of Marine Foundation

History illustrates for us, over and over, that the most imaginative innovations rarely emerge from comfortable centers of old, incumbent power. And if humankind is to survive and thrive deep into this millennium, a massive rethink of what constitutes sustainable action — particularly as it relates to our marine environment — is necessary.

These axioms and ideas were among the engaging topics promulgated and discussed during a special panel on Monday, May 22, at the 76th annual Cannes Film Festival, spotlighting the Marine Foundation of Japan. Held in the Roger Ebert Conference Center at the American Pavilion and titled “The Diplomatic Voice of the Ocean,” the conversation underscored how the fate of humanity as a species is inseparable from the fate of the ocean.


The Marine Foundation began in 2013 as a humanitarian project designed to bring together world leaders and other stakeholders, including artists and celebrities, to leverage their talents and platforms in assessing and promoting world-healing systems and technologies.


Now, across the five foundational sectors of education, health, economy, technology and infrastructure, the Marine Foundation and its partners work together to generate and share solution-based ideas for the regeneration of our oceans, including neutralizing all radioactive elements in the contaminated water at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan.

Marine Foundation co-directors Elizabeth Riley and Travis Roche-Wallis represented the organization in person at the panel, which was moderated by Yong Chavez, a correspondent for ABS-CBN News of the Philippines, and a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Additionally, appearing virtually on behalf of the Marine Foundation were chairman Tomeo Gressard from Japan, as well as vice chairman Dylan Howard.

The group’s most recent effort, “Fukushima Fix,” has successfully brought together the leadership of Fukishima Daichi, who are supporting the technology to assist in the ongoing aforementioned water clean-up in the wake of the March 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukishima nuclear power plant in Ōkuma, Japan. Despite more than a decade having passed since the incident, the final disposition of more than 4,000 tanks of radioactive water still hangs in the balance.

“I think it’s time for everyone to come together and really address the issues at hand. The five oceans, if we don’t step up now, we’re going to have the possibility of larger issues down the road,” said Riley. “We’re headquartered in Tokyo, so Fukushima is an urgent place to start in order to avoid catastrophic disaster. We see the oceans as a critical part of the ecology of this planet, as well as habitat for the future. And if we do not have a diplomatic voice or an organization that is addressing the level of these issues and taking responsibility for the delivery of outcomes, we’ll never have the ability to explore the possibility of the ocean as (an imaginable) habitat of the future.”


Helping to aid this mission, and connect its aims in a tangible way to something very public-facing and of the current zeitgeist, is the group’s other current focus: “Guardians of the Ocean,” a collection of maritime-oriented NFTs.

“Our goal is to unite the emerging Guardians of the Ocean in an alliance, to help establish with us a new frontier of ocean habitat, and to protect that future by fixing this planetary challenge of our (recent) past,” said Howard. “This initiative is our first priority because we can fully unlock the possibilities of an advanced regenerative civilization to take form and take shape.

“If this nuclear waste (at Fukishima) is released at that scale, we can’t really comprehend the consequences because we don’t know that much about the oceans and some of the chain reactions that can occur from dumping that much waste,” he continued. “I believe this is a keystone challenge that will determine our civilization’s future trajectory, and (there is) a way to unify around this issue, birthing a new blue economy of possibilities and healing for our oceans and a future habitat for our species (where) we can adapt to all the changes we will face as a planet (that is) 71 percent ocean.”

For Roche-Wallis, his work with Marine Foundation has a uniquely personal dimension. “Working in global infrastructure for a few years, there’s a lot of people that are talking about doing things and then there are people that are really taking action,” he said. “And what I saw from them was really deeply taking action and responsibility for stepping up to something that could potentially be catastrophic for the world. And I believe in their vision. They really are blowing the doors off on what they think they can get accomplished.”


He added that he had had an additional impetus to his involvement. “And I also had a health scare,” he explained. “They always say that there’s two lives that you live. The first life ends when you realize you just have one. So it really started me thinking down the route of what was I going to leave behind, what was I going to be remembered for? And a 100-year vision is a pretty great place to start. Also, my goal with the foundation was really to leverage and celebrate the wisdom of the past. So partnerships with Buckminster Fuller, partnerships with huge infrastructure groups, partnerships with governments around the world that really are just status quo — it’s the conservative nature of who we are. And partnering that with spending 15 years in Silicon Valley, we have the Stanford Research Institute, DARPA, all these incredible research groups that really are pushing the limits of what people think is humanly possible.”

That combination of practical and radical thinking is key to the future of the Marine Foundation and its more unique aims, according to its directors. Positioning the organization as an officially recognized diplomatic voice for the oceans, for example, allows it to work more bilaterally with nations on behalf of the oceans and the citizens of the planet.

“Within the next 10 years, after fixing Fukushima, we will be activating the same process of restoring other radioactive areas from over the last century,” said Roche-Wallis. “Our disaster prevention team is being established to react faster to other future nuclear disasters, since most nuclear power plants are positioned on coastal regions. We see disaster prevention as being a primary driver of our work.”

Also over the next decade, the group envisions building cities on the water, beginning in experimental phases. “Our first-use cases on this new frontier will be expanding ports and coastlines with the hope of seeding and testing innovation,” shared Roche-Wallis. “These ‘blue economy zones’ will serve as areas to develop new technology as a test bed of many applications. Our goal is to attract and condense our collective breakthrough innovations into one place, as a living lab and community that grounds our regenerative future into (a new) reality.”

Furthermore, special geo-engineering projects will be deployed to reduce sea-level rise. “Within 20 years, I see the formation of new oceanic habitats or cities in each of the five oceans,” said Roche-Wallis. “In this same timeframe, I believe we will see the first 100,000-person city as a floating habitat. Then, within the next 100 years, we will have regenerative, networked floating cities or habitats in every ocean. I visualize the transition of cargo ships to be powered by the ocean via salt-water hydrogen power.”

For more information on the Marine Foundation, some of their work, and their vision of the future, visit www.MarineF.org.