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Blue Pioneer Program

Jun 03rd 2018 10:00

Training Leaders for China’s Blue Economy

China’s blue economy will play a central role in the country’s 21st century development. China’s coastal provinces, comprising just 14% of China’s total land area, have half the population of the country and two-thirds of the economic activity. The oceans are a major source of food production and a major source of employment and economic activity. In the coming decade, China’s maritime economy is expected to achieve a growth rate nearly twice that of other sectors.

This growth is challenged by mounting environmental pressures and threats along China’s coasts and oceans. More than half of China’s fisheries are overharvested and depleted. More than 60% of China’s coastal wetlands have been lost to development. Pollution carried by rivers to China’s coasts has produced vast “dead zones” and continues to contaminate seafood produced in the rapidly growing coastal aquaculture industry.

Over the next two decades, there will be a tremendous need for leaders and entrepreneurs who can build organizations that innovate sustainable solutions to these economic, environmental, and social challenges facing China’s blue economy. In 2018, the Paradise Foundation, in partnership with the Environmental Research Center of Duke Kunshan University and China’s Yintai Foundation, established the Blue Pioneer Program to identify and train the new leaders of China’s blue economy.

The Blue Pioneer Program will enable young leaders to take effective action to build the corporations, nonprofits and social enterprises that can successfully solve the sustainability and economic challenges that China faces in and around its oceans, coasts, fisheries and aquaculture sectors.

The Blue Pioneer Program will empower social entrepreneurs who devote themselves to marine conservation. The Blue Pioneer Program participants will gain essential training and knowledge that will enable them to launch and grow social enterprises or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) related to the ocean. The Blue Pioneer Program provides seed funds and sends participants on a field trip to Silicon Valley to accelerate the social enterprises of participants.

In 2018, the Blue Pioneer Program will also provide Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to a wider audience, including college students and the public. It also encourages college students to pursue a career in the social enterprise of marine conservation.

The Blue Pioneer Program will provide seed funds to support new social organizations on marine conservation. The work plan and criteria will be released on the launching day.

Who May Apply

Any professionals with an interest in marine conservation and more than two years’ experience in NGOs and/or social enterprises. Professionals who have worked in any capacity in social justice, environmental justice, or corporate responsibility, including journalists reporting on marine conservation are welcome to apply.


Tuition, meals and lodging are covered by the program. Students admitted into the program will be responsible for the travel cost to DKU.

Important Dates


April 11, 2018

Module 1

June 2-5, 2018

Module 2

August 23-26, 2018

Module 3

November 1-4

Course Descriptions Click here for more course details 


The Paradise Foundation is a nonprofit organization that focuses on protecting lands and waters around the world. Initiated by a number of well-known entrepreneurs, artists and philanthropists in China, The Paradise International Foundation is now led by co-chairmen Jack Ma, Pony Ma, and executive chairman Shen Guojun. The Foundation honors cooperation and expands its conservation projects globally in regions of high conservation value. We attach great importance to local conservation and management capacity building, helping to explore sustainable fund-raising models and promote environmental-friendly products. Outdoor activities are organized for the public, especially for the young people, with volunteer jobs being provided. By doing so, we aim to encourage more people to lead a healthy lifestyle that contains the wisdom of “from nature, back to nature” and fulfill our vision of “preserving more green mountains and clear waters for future generations”.

Duke Kunshan University is a partnership of Duke University and Wuhan University to create a world-class university offering a range of academic programs and conferences for students from China and throughout the world. The Environmental Research Center of Duke Kunshan University is based on the reputation of Duke University in environmental research and maintains close cooperation with Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, Sanford School of Public Policy, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy, and Duke Energy Initiative.