A Quarter of the World’s Ocean Floor Now Mapped Under Seabed 2030 Project (4) [2023/06/07]
In February, The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project, which aims to complete the mapping of the world’s ocean floor before the end of the decade, entered into a strategic partnership with ecoSUB Robotics of the United Kingdom, a subsidiary of Planet Ocean, specialized in the design and construction of autonomous underwaters vehicles (AUVs).
This collaboration is set to significantly advance the project's objective of creating a complete map of the ocean floor. The innovative AUVs of ecoSUB Robotics have the ability to explore areas that are inaccessible to scientists and divers for safety reasons, thus contributing significantly to the mapping effort.
The portability and affordability of ecoSUB AUVs enables Seabed 2030 to explore the capabilities offered by compact autonomous systems for survey, science and exploration.
Mr. Terry Sloane, managing director of Planet Ocean, commented: “At ecoSUB Robotics, we’re committed to increasing accessibility to AUVs and making this groundbreaking technology available to all. Advancing oceanographic research will benefit the entire population and AUVs play an invaluable role in progressing this field of ocean science. We look forward to supporting the global effort in pursuit of a complete ocean map led by Seabed 2030 through the development of our advanced, yet affordable, AUV technology.”
Mr. Jamie McMichael-Phillips, Seabed 2030 project director, said: “Not only do AUVs enable us to access hazardous areas, but they also provide a solution to the mapping of remote and uncharted areas. Collaborative working is essential to Seabed 2030 and it’s through partnerships−such as this with ecoSUB Robotics−that we’re able to ensure our strategy remains forward-looking, and that our efforts are well-positioned to make use of innovative technologies as they become available to progress our goal."
When Seabed 2030 was launched in 2017, only 6% of the world’s ocean floor had been mapped in high resolution. In that same year, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the Ocean Decade, with a key challenge of developing a comprehensive map of the ocean, to ensure a more sustainable management of the marine environment and its resources. Seabed 2030 is a flagship program of the Ocean Decade.
In the six years since, a monumental total of 90 million square kilometers of bathymetric data has been acquired by virtue of global partnerships, data mobilization and strides in technological innovation.
We remain humbly aware, of course, that the latest achievement leaves 75% of the world’s seabed still to be mapped.
Some of the key challenges to mapping the entire ocean floor include overcoming the vast scale and depth of the ocean, limited technological capabilities, the high cost of mapping expeditions, and capacity building.
The goal is ambitious yet entirely achievable if we can mobilize the global community to participate. I sincerely hope that everyone with a link to the ocean will do as much as they can to help map the entire seafloor by the end of the decade.
A Quarter of the World’s Ocean Floor Now Mapped Under Seabed 2030 Project (3) [2023/06/06]
The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project, which aims to complete the mapping of the world’s ocean floor before the end of the decade, has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Saildrone, a U.S. based uncrewed surface vehicles (USV) company, at a ceremony during Ocean Business held in Southampton, the United Kingdom, on April 18-20. Ocean Business is three days of ocean technology engineering and science, knowledge sharing, hands-on training and demos as well as networking.
The MOU outlines a shared commitment between Seabed 2030 and Saildrone to leverage technological innovation to more quickly and efficiently collect ocean mapping data and support solutions for ocean mapping and bathymetric data management.
Saildrone’s fleet of USVs is designed to make ocean data collection cost-effective at scale, offering new capabilities for ocean exploration and mapping.
Saildrone said that its surveyor-class vehicles carry a similar sophisticated suite of acoustic instruments to deliver International Hydrographic Organization (IHO)-compliant bathymetry data to a depth of 11,000 meters. Saildrone’s 10-meter Voyager-class vehicles are equipped for near-short ocean mapping to depths of 300 meters.
Mr. Jamie McMichael-Phillips, project director of Seabed 2030, commented: “We can only realize our goal of a complete map of the ocean floor if we mobilize the international community and work together. We are therefore delighted to partner with Saildrone and leverage their expertise in unmanned surface vehicles for ocean mapping.”
“The capabilities of Saildrone’s fleet will greatly enhance our ability to obtain essential data and increase our understanding of the ocean. Allowing us, in turn, to make informed and impactful decisions with regard to the future of the planet.”
According to Saildrone, its platforms are the only USVs capable of long-endurance ocean-mapping operations using renewable energy as the primary source of power.
Mr. Richard Jenkins, Saildrone founder and CEO, said: “Saildrone’s vision is of a healthy ocean and a sustainable planet. A complete map of the ocean floor is fundamental to achieving that vision. We are proud to collaborate with Seabed 2030, to enable the mapping of our entire seabed, for the benefit of the global community.”
At Ocean Business in Southampton, Seabed 2030 also entered into a new partnership with ACUA Ocean, which develops zero-carbon emission uncrewed surface vessels.
Headquartered in London, ACUA Ocean is a maritime cleantech startup working to promote the sustainable economic and environmental management of the ocean. Their hydrogen-powered uncrewed surface vessels (H-USV) reduce operational CO2 emissions by up to 99.3% compared to existing manned solutions, as well as reducing fueling and maintenance requirements. This enhances operational efficiency by allowing for an increase in range, speed and endurance.
Seabed 2030 Project Director McMichael-Phillips said he was delighted to partner with ACUA Ocean, whose commitment to environmentally-friendly practices and marine conservation strongly aligns with Seabed 2030’s goal of promoting the sustainable management of the ocean, adding: “Through this new partnership and ACUA Ocean’s innovative technology we can expedite the global endeavor to map the ocean, so that we can better manage it.”
Mr. Neil Tinmouth, CEO of ACUA Ocean, said: "This partnership with Seabed 2030 is a natural fit for us. Our mission is to advance underwater mapping in order to better understand the ocean and its ecosystems. By working with Seabed 2030, we can help to make a significant impact in our efforts to protect the planet."
A Quarter of the World’s Ocean Floor Now Mapped Under Seabed 2030 Project (2) [2023/06/05]
The release of the latest grid figure, showing that 24.9% of the world’s entire seabed has now been mapped, followed a series of recent announcements that The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project has teamed up with five new partners to complete the mapping of the entire ocean floor by the end of this decade.
This has brought to 250 the total number of supporters that have signed on to Seabed 2030 from across government, industry, research institutions, academia, philanthropy and NPOs in more than 50 countries. Of these, Seabed 2030 has signed memoranda of understanding (MOU) with 39 entities to give the partnerships a more formal status.
The five new supporters are the Nigerian Navy, NORBIT Oceans of Norway, Saildrone of the United States, and ecoSUB Robotics and ACUA Ocean, both of the United Kingdom.
The partnership with the Nigerian Navy marks a significant milestone for Seabed 2030, as it is the first collaboration of its kind in Africa. The MOU signing took place in early May against the backdrop of the third International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) Assembly on board the 65-meter MV White Rose of Drachs berthed in the Port of Cap d’Ail on the border between France and the principality of Monaco.
The Nigerian Navy, which is among the largest navies on the African continent, brings valuable expertise and resources to the Seabed 2030 initiative.
In addition to providing defense services, the navy acts as the sole national authority on hydrographic, charting and tidal matters. With the potential involvement of up to 20 vessels in the Nigerian fleet, the country’s participation with the Seabed 2030 project will enable the project to expand its reach and make great strides in its vital goal.
Mr. Jamie McMichael-Phillips, project director of Seabed 2030, said he was delighted to welcome the Nigerian Navy to join the valued network of partners, adding: “The expertise and resources offered by the navy greatly enhances our data collection capabilities. Together, we can advance understanding of the ocean floor and pave the way for a more sustainable future.”
Rear Admiral Chukwuemeka Ebenezer Okafor of the Nigerian Navy said: “The Nigerian Navy is pleased to partner with Seabed 2030 on this ambitious mission. We have a wealth of experience in oceanographic research and survey operations, and look forward to contributing to this global effort to better understand−and ultimately protect− the ocean.”
Under the partnership, which was also entered into during the IHO Assembly early in May in Monaco, NORBIT Oceans, a provider of underwater imaging and mapping technology, will strengthen the capabilities of Seabed 2030 and its network by providing innovative solutions involving bathymetric survey data sets, research voyages, as well as general survey activities.
With a focus on providing technology solutions to global maritime markets, NORBIT Oceans is one of three segments within the global technology company NORBIT ASA, headquartered in Norway. NORBIT Oceans offers advanced solutions for seafloor mapping, environmental monitoring, tailored products for the aquaculture and security markets, as well as customized cables.
Seabed 2030 Project Director McMichael-Phillips stated: “NORBIT Oceans’ technology solutions and expertise in underwater imaging will be invaluable to our mission of mapping the entire ocean floor. This collaboration will bring us closer to achieving our ambitious goal, whilst advancing scientific understanding of the world’s marine environment.”
Mr. John Fraser, NORBIT UK and Middle East Director, said: “We share Seabed 2030’s values in social responsibility and sustainability. We’re therefore delighted to join the project and support the delivery of its crucial objective, which is essential to the sustainable management of the planet.”
A Quarter of the World’s Ocean Floor Now Mapped Under Seabed 2030 Project (1) [2023/06/02]
The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project, which aims to complete the mapping of the world’s ocean floor by 2030, has released the latest GEBCO Grid figure, showing 24.9% of the world’s entire seabed has now been mapped.
The announcement was made by Prince Albert II of Monaco during the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) Assembly, held in the principality from May 1 to 5. The assembly, attended by representatives of its 98 member states, meets every three years to discuss new developments in technical standards and ocean mapping, and to adopt resolutions to guide its activities.
The latest GEBCO Grid figure represented an increase of 5.4 million square kilometers of new bathymetric data from last year, which equates to an area twice the size of Argentina.
Seabed 2030 is a collaborative project launched in 2017 between The Nippon Foundation and the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) to inspire the complete mapping of the world's ocean by 2030, and to compile all bathymetric data into the freely available GEBCO Ocean Map.
GEBCO itself is a joint program of the IHO and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO), and is the only initiative with a mandate to map the entire ocean floor.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the assembly, Prince Albert II praised developments made in ocean mapping, and acknowledged the role of GEBCO, which is celebrating 120 years this year. GEBCO was initiated in 1903 by his ancestor, Prince Albert I of Monaco.
Mr. Vladimir Ryabinin, IOC-UNESCO executive secretary, commented: “Mapping the ocean in its entirety has been the ultimate goal of GEBCO since its birth in 1903 under the initiative of Prince Albert I of Monaco. 120 years later, knowing the geometry of our own planet is a must for achieving the objectives of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.”
“Our close collaboration with the IHO in the framework of The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 project resulted in an unprecedented acceleration of the mapped seafloor coverage in just eight years. With this improved knowledge, we can make better informed decisions about how to protect and sustainably use the ocean, so that it remains a vital resource for generations to come,” he added.
Mr. Mitsuyuki Unno, executive director of The Nippon Foundation, said The Nippon Foundation has been working with GEBCO since 2004, adding: “The program has nurtured more than 100 ocean mappers from 46 countries and the alumni have been supporting the global efforts to complete the GEBCO grid. Recent progress demonstrates the power of international collaboration and the dedication of everyone involved in this project, but we must not lose sight of the ultimate goal. This is a mission that requires the continued support and commitment of all stakeholders, and I call on everyone to join us in this important endeavor.”
40% of Japanese Children Want the Government to Make High School, College Education Free [2023/05/24]
On April 1, the Japanese government established the Children and Families Agency to deal in an integrated way with declining birth rates, child abuse, bullying and other pressing issues concerning children that had previously been handled by different government agencies.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has pledged to double the budget necessary to tackle such measures, although he didn’t go into detail.
Under a Basic Act on the Child that came into force the same day, the government plans to lay down an outline this autumn that will set the basic policies for addressing these issues for years to come.
With the aim of reflecting as many children’s views as possible in that outline, The Nippon Foundation conducted an online survey from March 6 to 12 covering 10,000 children and youths aged between 10 and 18 across the nation.
Asked what they would like the government and society to prioritize in dealing with children, two in five respondents (40.3%) said making high school and university education free.
They were followed by those who wanted priority to be given to creating a society without bullying (36.7%), being able to live safely without being affected by crime (33.7%), listening carefully to the voices of children in serious need of help (30.6%) and treating all children equally (28.8%).
When asked if they were aware of the new legislation, less than one in 10 (8.8%) responded in the affirmative, while more than three-fifths (61.5%) said they had never heard of it. Awareness of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was similarly low, with only 9.8% saying they knew about it and 59.3% saying they had never heard of it.
The UNCRC, which Japan ratified in 1994, is a legally-binding international treaty setting out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of every child, regardless of race, religion or ability.
When asked if they had ever felt discriminated against or treated unfairly, 6.9% said “yes” because of their appearance, followed by their school grades (5.3%), their language and way of speaking (2.2%), their family’s financial situation (1.8%), their developmental disability (1.7%), and being from a single parent family (1.2%).
Queried whether there were any children’s rights that were not being respected in Japan, the following four rights were cited by more than 10% of respondents in each case: the right to express oneself freely and be respected by adults (11.9%), the right not to be discriminated against for any reason (11.3%), the right to receive an education (10.8%), and the right for the best interests of the child to be prioritized by adults (10.2%).
Asked to identify what social system they would like to see to uphold children’s rights, one in three (29.5%) cited more education about children’s rights at school, followed by the availability of adults to support children in need of help (27.7%) and the availability of people who children can talk to via telephone, social networks or email when they are in trouble (26.5%).
Respondents were also asked to write freely about what they would like to see addressed in the basic policy outline and what they would like the officials of the new agency to do. Free education topped the list at 15.9%, followed by a revision of the school curriculum and rules (13.5%) and respect for children’s opinions (10.3%). The survey also found that the children themselves felt the burden of the cost of education, with one respondent saying, “I want to study, but I’m reluctant to ask my parents to pay even more than they already have,” and another stating, “My parents often tell me that the cost of education is too high.”
After studying the findings of the survey, I feel strongly that the government must redouble its efforts to educate Japanese children about the new legislation and the U.N. Convention on Rights of the Child, and convince them of their right to have their opinions respected.
I sincerely hope that the officials of the new agency will listen very carefully to what children want, as shown by this survey and other forums, before they draft the basic policy outline.
【Photo Diary】 (2) Visit to the United Kingdom [2023/05/19]
I would like to share with you some of the photographs taken during my visit to the United Kingdom between April 25 and 29, 2023, as chairman of The Nippon Foundation and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination.
[April 27, London]
Speaking at an event in London on April 27, 2023, to launch The Nippon Foundation-Nekton Ocean Census with the ambitious target of finding at least 100,000 new marine species in the first decade.
The event was held at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, an organization devoted to scientific education and research, based in the City of Westminster.
With Mr. Rupert Grey, chairman of Nekton, a U.K.-based marine research institute, at an event in London on April 27, 2023, to launch the largest program in history to discover life in our oceans.
A press conference on the launch of the ambitious project.
[April 28, London]
Before departing London for Tokyo, I found the weather to be as cold as midwinter in Japan.
Details of the launch event for The Nippon Foundation-Nekton Ocean Census can be seen on this blog on May 11-12.
【Photo Diary】 (1) Visit to the United Kingdom [2023/05/18]
I would like to share with you some of the photographs taken during my visit to the United Kingdom between April 25 and 29, 2023, as chairman of The Nippon Foundation and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination.
In London, I launched The Nippon Foundation-Nekton Ocean Census alongside Mr. Rupert Grey, chairman of Nekton, a U.K.-based marine research institute. This is the largest program in history to discover life in our oceans with the ambitious target of finding at least 100,000 new marine species in the first decade.
During the visit, I also engaged in activities as the leprosy elimination ambassador as part of my quest for a world free of leprosy, or Hansen’s disease.
[April 25, London]
With Ms. Claire Ireland, director of programs for “The Elders,” a group of independent global leaders that engages in peacemaking and human rights initiatives around the world. I presented her with a preserved rose for her daughter, who was turning 18 years old the following day.
I called on The Elders to join us in endorsing the 19th Global Appeal to End Stigma and Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy to be launched in January 2024.
Ms. Ireland promised to relay my request to the group’s members, including Chair Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, Deputy Chair Ban Ki-moon, former secretary-general of the United Nations, and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
I initiated the annual appeal in 2006, and it has been issued every year since on or near World Leprosy Day, which falls on the last Sunday of January. Its message is threefold: leprosy is curable, free treatment is available around the world, and discrimination against persons affected by leprosy has no place. Over the years, this message has been endorsed by, among others, political, business, academic and religious leaders around the world.
[April 26, London]
A breakfast meeting with Mr. Tim Hughes, deputy executive director of the International Bar Association (IBA).
We exchanged views on some countries where discriminatory laws still exist against persons affected by leprosy and agreed to explore further ways to get rid of such laws.
I also invited him to attend an international symposium to be held in Bergen, Norway, on June 21-22 to mark 150 years since the discovery of the leprosy bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae, by Dr. Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen (1841-1912). Mr. Hughes responded that with the election of IBA officers set for around that time, it remains to be seen whether he will be able to attend.
The symposium also comes under the "Don't Forget Leprosy" campaign that I initiated in 2021 amid the coronavirus pandemic to ensure that leprosy is not overlooked.
Making a tour of the Linnean Society of London, the world’s oldest learned society devoted to biology and natural history, and the birthplace of the theory of evolution. Founded in 1788, its collections include the priceless book, archive and biological specimen of the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus housed in environmentally-controlled conditions.
Being interviewed at the Linnean Society of London on The Nippon Foundation-Nekton Ocean Census on the eve of its launch with the ambitious target of finding at least 100,000 new marine species over the next decade.
With Ms. Lucy North who translated into English my book depicting my fight against leprosy and the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease. Titled in English Making the Impossible Possible: My Work for Leprosy Elimination and Human Rights, the book is about 850 pages long and contains some 700 photos. It covers some 20 years of my activities as a leprosy elimination ambassador, making some 200 overseas trips to a total of about 70 countries.
In particular, I thanked Ms. North for completing the translation in time for distribution to participants in the international symposium in Bergen on June 21-22 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Dr. Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen’s discovery of the leprosy bacillus.
With members of the board of trustees and staff of the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, The Nippon Foundation’s partner organization. From left, Chief Executive Jenny White; the author; Professor Janet Hunter, London School of Economics and Political Science; Professor David Cope, Foundation Fellow, Clare Hall, University of Cambridge; Treasurer Jeremy Scott, non-executive director and chair, Audit Committee, Barclays International; and Programs Executive Rory Steele.
The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation provides support to 13 prestigious universities in the United Kingdom to promote and maintain Japanese studies. It also explores how the two countries can work together more effectively to address a number of critical challenges that the world is facing.
The Nippon Foundation, U.K.’s Nekton Launch Largest Program in History to Discover 100,000 New Marine Species in a Decade (2) [2023/05/12]
Speaking at the event at the Royal Institution in London on April 27, 2023, to launch The Nippon Foundation-Nekton Ocean Census with the ambitious target of discovering at least 100,000 new marine species over the next decade.
At the event in London on April 27 to launch The Nippon Foundation-Nekton Ocean Census with the ambitious target of discovering at least 100,000 new marine species in a decade, I told the audience: “Should the ocean be the fundamental element for the coprosperity of humankind, I cannot but wish that this project will be a catalyst to the further advancement of humankind.”
“Such an ambitious project, full of dreams and potential, cannot be accomplished by The Nippon Foundation and the Nekton Foundation alone. I would like to work in collaboration with the ocean research institutes around the world, and all present here today to unravel the mysteries of the ocean together,” I added.
Mr. Mitsuyuki Unno, executive director of The Nippon Foundation, said:
“This new foundation of knowledge can help advance our understanding of fundamental science―oxygen production, carbon cycling, sustainable food production, the evolution of life on Earth and even discoveries of new medicine and biotechnologies.”
Nekton chairman Rupert Grey said at the event: “The discoveries which Ocean Census will make will enable those in government to regulate strictly the manner in which the ocean is protected and its resources managed to best advantage. Enable, but not ensure. That is for nation-states and their governments and international agencies. I pray they are up to the task.”
Ocean Census is coming at the right time. The United Nations Biodiversity Conference held in Montreal in December 2022 set a landmark global agreement to halt and reverse nature loss, including putting 30% of the planet under protection by 2030.
The information generated by Ocean Census will play a key role in helping to ensure that protected areas are optimally positioned to safeguard biodiversity for the future.
Ocean Census will also help to identify how marine ecosystems are responding to climate change, and assess the potential for the ocean to mitigate emissions and alleviate the impacts of climate change, including through nature-based solutions.
The text of my speech at the event can be seen here.
The Nippon Foundation, U.K.’s Nekton Launch Largest Program in History to Discover 100,000 New Marine Species in a Decade (1) [2023/05/11]
With Mr. Rupert Grey, chairman of Nekton, a U.K.-based marine research institute, at an event in London on April 27, 2023. We launched The Nippon Foundation-Nekton Ocean Census with the ambitious target of finding at least 100,000 new marine species in the next decade.
The Nippon Foundation and Nekton, a U.K.-based marine research institute, have launched the largest program in history to discover life in our ocean “at speed and at scale.”
At an event at the Royal Institution in London on April 27, I made the announcement alongside Nekton chairman Rupert Grey that the project, called The Nippon Foundation-Nekton Ocean Census, has set the ambitious target of finding at least 100,000 new marine species in the first decade.
Scientists believe little more than 10% of the species that live in our seas have been found and that around two million remain undiscovered.
For the past 200 years, the work of finding and scientifically describing species, known as taxonomy, has been slow and methodical−the average rate of new species discoveries has changed little since the 1800s, at around 2,000 a year.
The Ocean Census scientists believe that traditional taxonomy is not up to the challenges of the climate and biodiversity crises, which are predicted to result in the loss of the majority of species on Earth.
Professor Alex Rogers, Ocean Census science director, noted: “Revolutions in technologies such as digital imaging, sequencing and machine learning, now make it possible to discover ocean life at speed and at scale.”
“It currently takes one to two years to several decades to describe a new species after it is collected by scientists, but utilizing new technologies and sharing the knowledge gained using cloud-based approaches, it will now only take a few months,” he added.
Over the coming years, Ocean Census scientists will embark on dozens of expeditions to the ocean’s biodiversity hotspots to seek out new life from the surface to the ocean floor. Combining vessels from philanthropic, government and commercial fleets, they will be deploying a combination of advanced subsea technologies with divers, submarines and deep-sea robots.
For the initial year, The Nippon Foundation will provide $4 million dollars to finance Ocean Census activities.
The project will be headquartered in Oxford, where the University Museum of Natural History is home to specimen finds dating back to the time of Charles Darwin (1809-1882), whose theory of evolution is the basis of much of our understanding of the so-called “tree of life” on Earth.
Species discovered on expeditions will be sent for high-resolution imaging and DNA sequencing in a network of Ocean Census biodiversity centers to be established in high-, middle-, and low-income nations around the world.
A key aim of the project is to grow and diversify the global network of taxonomists, which to date has been concentrated in high-income countries. To support this, networks of taxonomists will connect virtually to annotate “Digital Life Forms” to complete species descriptions.
The aggregated, open-sourced data will be added to a network of data centers globally and made freely accessible to scientists, decision makers, and the public.
I believe that inspiring the public is fundamental to success and science has to join forces with business and civil society to make real change happen through a collaborative worldwide effort.
The Nippon Foundation Invests a Further $2 Million in the Valuable 500 for Business Disability Inclusion [2023/05/08]
The Nippon Foundation has reaffirmed its commitment to disability inclusion worldwide by investing a further $2 million in the Valuable 500, a network grouping CEOs of 500 global companies committed to including persons with disabilities in business.
As the sole Global Impact Partner, the foundation made history in 2021 by investing $5 million in the Valuable 500, the largest single investment ever in disability inclusion in business. The latest investment brings the total to $7 million.
Launched at the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2019, the Valuable 500’s membership includes Apple, Deloitte, Dentsu, Fujitsu, Google, Hitachi, HSBC, Microsoft, Nestle, NTT Group, P&G, The Coco-Cola Company and Sony.
Mr. Ichiro Kabasawa, executive director the foundation, commented: “Investing in the activities of the world's 500 most successful and well-funded corporations is a contradictory decision for a non-profit organization like The Nippon Foundation. However, we are making this investment because we know that ensuring systematic change is what truly is needed, and we are confident that the Valuable 500 will bring about success.”
I decided to support the Valuable 500 as thus far there has not been much visible progress in the employment of persons with disabilities worldwide, no matter what declarations or decisions the United Nations or international conferences have made.
I believe the involvement of these global business leaders can be a “game changer” to create employment for the world’s 1.2 billion persons with disabilities and develop products and services for them.
“If businesses don’t change, the world will never change. This is a lesson we have learned through our activities over the years,” Mr. Kabasawa added.
The business network will maximize this investment and harness the power of collective actions across the 500 global businesses. This will be achieved by focusing on three pillars: Representation, Leadership and Inclusive Reporting.
Each pillar is developed and delivered in partnership with several iconic companies among the likes of Google, Sony and Verizon. These companies represent some of the largest brands in the world and will invest in products and services that will affect system change−materially improving disability inclusion within business.
With over 10% (53) of the Valuable 500 membership being headquartered in Japan, the Valuable 500 and The Nippon Foundation will be convening Japanese businesses to discuss how they can continue to improve disability inclusion within business.
Ms. Caroline Casey, an Irish social entrepreneur who is visually impaired and is the founder of the Valuable 500, stated: “Central to this work is tackling one of the greatest barriers to change−the lack of disability data in business. It is our ambition that all our companies will be reporting on disability performance in their annual reports against a harmonized set of metrics. Thus, enabling us to hold ourselves to account and create new frameworks for driving system change.”
In January 2023, the Valuable 500 published a white paper titled “ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) and Disability Data: A call for inclusive reporting” co-funded and developed with Allianz of Germany and the London Stock Exchange Group.
The white paper recommends five global standardized Disability Inclusion Key Performance Indicators−Workforce Representation, Goals, Training, Employee Resource Groups and Digital Accessibility.
The culmination of member companies’ efforts will be showcased at the world’s first accountability event on disability business performance in Tokyo on the U.N. International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, 2025.
I sincerely hope that the Valuable 500 will be able to develop fair, transparent and effective standardized disability inclusion indicators and report on disability performance against a harmonized set of metrics in their annual reports.
This would encourage them to employ many more of the world’s 1.2 billion persons with disabilities, paving the way for an inclusive society in which people with disabilities can actively participate without discrimination.