Things are not looking good for the world’s ocean. The Ocean Conservancy reports that 8m tonnes of plastic are entering the ocean annually. The impact on the ocean is well understood, and steps are being taken on a global scale to eliminate plastic waste and pollution. The future of plastics in the ocean will be defined by the way how plastics are managed on land. The detrimental impact of plastic on the world’s oceans will not be reduced until the terrestrial supply chain and end-to-end solutions are revised.
As things stand, the world is not going to burn in the fires of armageddon but drown in a sea of filth. Flotsam and jetsam were never so filthy.
In addition to the effect on ocean health, the impact on the global economy is deleterious. As reported by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, US$80bn-120bn is lost per year to the global economy because of the mismanagement of plastic waste. That kind of money could end poverty and reduce physical suffering.
And let us not forget marine life. We tend to measure disasters by their impact on humans. We have been abusing marine life for a good century in a maritime genocide.
Finding solutions across the entire plastics value chain is key – from collection, processing, recycling, design and end markets and it will be essential to get consumer acceptance of innovative approaches. At the same time, increased support from governments, industry, and investors is required to upscale solutions and reverse engineer marine pollution. This is a global challenge that impacts every economy so we can no longer be indulging in virtue signaling, paying lip service, and then doing bugger all about it.
Critical components of a global rescue plan are:
- Speeding up collaboration between NGOs, governments and industry
- Identifying where investment is needed the most, especially in developing countries
- Scaling the solutions to match the size of the problem
- Adding value to plastic waste and ensuring plastics are part of the circular economy
- Addressing the end-of-life conversation from the earliest stages of product design
“A thought-provoking event for relevant topics of our ocean today. Full of meaningful discussions and enabled great conservations across multiple sectors and networks.” – senior program Manager, The Ocean Agency
Lisbon Congress Centre Praça das Indústrias 1, 1300-307,Lisbon, Portugal
***POST SCRIPT: THE SUMMIT WAS HELD VIRTUALLY
The 2021 World Ocean Summit & Expo agenda promises it will deliver fresh, robust and action-oriented insights into creating a sustainable ocean economy. Audience size will increase to 2000 participants and the scope will be broadened to encourage attendance from more industry leaders. The expo announces it will retain the focus on high-level conversation and policymaking and seek solutions to accelerate appropriate action.
The programme will deliver action-oriented, industry-focused sessions along six tracks: aquaculture, fishing, energy, plastics, shipping and tourism.
In addition, participants will be able to engage across sectors to explore the role the ocean plays in tackling climate change, enhancing biodiversity, protecting coastal communities, and restoring ecosystems. At the core of the summit and featuring in every track, will be the role of finance.
So far so good but will this any more than a holiday in the sun for those attending? The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
The 2021 agenda promises to provide a platform to plan–and then to act. The World Ocean Summit & Expo hopes remain the premier forum for everyone seeking to find the right balance between protecting the oceans and fostering economic growth.
Bring it on and then bring it all back home. We came from the stars but were born in the sea.