The #BackTheBlueBelt campaign, generously funded by the Brook Foundation and supported by the Great British Oceans coalition (Blue Marine Foundation, Greenpeace, Marine Conservation Society, RSPB, ZSL and Pew Trusts) aims to see the UK undertake arguably the greatest single act of marine conservation ever undertaken by one country, protecting four million square kilometres of ocean in a ‘Blue Belt’ around British Overseas Territories by 2020.
Combined with existing UK Marine Protected Areas, this would become the largest network of fully-protected marine reserves in the world, providing sanctuary to the largest coral atoll on Earth, a quarter of the world’s penguins, a third of the world’s albatrosses and globally significant populations of whales and turtles.
This innovative, social media-driven campaign has harnessed the current tide of public love of – and concern for – the oceans, inspired by David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 series, which is already the most watched TV series in the UK in 2017 and the most-watched natural history series in over 15 years.
The campaign has been hugely successful in recruiting the public to urge their local MP to sign up to the Blue Belt charter in parliament, thereby committing their support to see to fruition the key legislation and funding that underpins the Blue Belt initiative. During the final show of Blue Planet 2 on Sunday, the #BackTheBlueBelt hashtag was being used every 1.8 seconds and someone was tweeting their MP every 7.5 seconds, urged on by celebrity and expert advocates, from Stephen Fry and Cara Delevingne to Chris Packham and George Monbiot. As a result, #BackTheBlueBelt reached up to 21.7 million people.
A fantastic 232 MPs (and rising), from eight political parties, have so far signed up to the Blue Belt Charter representing a huge, cross-party display of support for the campaign. Many of these MPs made their pledges on Twitter as a direct result of being contacted by constituents through this platform.
See the social media campaign in action here and the innovative campaign website that helps the public easily contact their MP, and names the MPs who have already signed up, here. If your MP hasn’t signed, please encourage them to do so; we could still get to 250 by Christmas!