“Saltwater cures everything:” My opening narrative at the Ocean Symposium

This is how I framed the two-day oceansymposium.com in Tokyo, as emcee:

“Good morning. And a special welcome to our distinguished guests and leaders from around the world”

My name is Hanson Hosein. I will be your emcee over the next two days for this International Symposium on Capacity Building for Sustainable Oceans.

It is fitting that this symposium is hosted here in Tokyo, by the Nippon Foundation and the Japanese government as part of the “Our Ocean Project in Japan.”

After all, Japan is a pre-eminent maritime nation. Its history and culture have been defined by the seas. Indeed, this week the country celebrates Marine Day.

So on this special occasion, we welcome all of you who have traveled from around the world to build a global network to address pressing issues around ocean sustainability.

Ultimately, we are doing this to pass on healthy oceans to future generations.

This is a unique opportunity for us all to connect: we want you to feel comfortable and to share as much as you can over the next two days. What are your best practices? And what challenges do you continue to face in your own work?

Thank you for joining us.


Why am I here?

Formally, I’m the Director of the Communication Leadership master’s program at the University of Washington in Seattle. I got the job because I was an international journalist and filmmaker who early on recognized how digital technology was going to change how we connect with each other.

I teach my students that even as communication has never been easier because of these devices, it also has become more important — and more challenging.

We are competing for attention more than ever in the history of our species. So we need to win hearts and minds through compelling stories. These stories have the power to unite AND inspire ACTION — not just create awareness.

It is this outreach approach that I bring as a PARTNER of the Nippon Foundation Nereus Program.

And speaking personally, the seas have defined my life. I am the son of parents from the Caribbean island of Trinidad & Tobago. I was born in the great seafaring nation of Great Britain. I grew up in Canada, surrounded by three oceans. I worked in Israel and Palestine as a journalist, with an apartment facing the Mediterranean Sea.

Today, I live on the other edge of the Pacific Ocean in America, as the father of two young children who are passionate about salt water, and are DEEPLY concerned about its future.


When I return home to my family, I will share this great quote from Danish author Karen Blixen, who is best known for her book “Out of Africa.”

She once wrote, ” Salt water cures everything: sweat, tears, or the sea.”

I can’t think of a better mandate for us to pursue this important work over the next two days. This should not be controversial. The ocean can unite us.

And with that, I would like to invite our Japanese hosts to the stage to say a few words of welcome.”