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Ocean Currents

Big Ocean Wins = Big Opportunities

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© Laura Doherty

This has been a busy season for ocean conservation. 

Last month, we celebrated when President Obama announced the world’s largest marine protected area in Hawaii, which was quickly followed by the first marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean.

We then hailed important announcements made at the 2016 Our Ocean conference, including a commitment by Ocean Conservancy and our Trash Free Seas Alliance® partners to raise an additional $2.75 million to improve waste management in rapidly developing economies in Asia Pacific, as well as Dow’s pledge to dedicate $2.8 million to tackle marine debris.

And thousands of you around the world took action to tackle this growing threat to our ocean by joining Ocean Conservancy’s 31st International Coastal Cleanup, where we also launched our new Clean Swell app.

We closed September with an exciting development to keep trash and plastic out of our ocean through a high-level session held in conjunction with an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Tokyo that focused on making waste management projects more financially attractive. The event was co-hosted by the Government of Japan and the U.S. State Department, with the support of China and Russia and additional support from Ocean Conservancy and the Trash Free Seas Alliance®. I was honored to participate in substantive discussions with representatives from major corporations, civil society organizations and government officials. Ocean Conservancy underscored the importance of seeking solutions to marine debris on land, acknowledging that comprehensive, modern waste management systems are critical if we are to succeed in stemming the tide of plastic entering our ocean.

Ocean Conservancy is thankful to have the support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to further identify land-based solutions for marine plastic debris in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

“It will take action on many fronts to deal with the growing menace of marine pollution,” said Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson of GEF. “In collaboration with UNEP, the GEF will invest some $2 million dollars for land-based solutions to ocean plastics as part of the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Alliance® and the New Plastics Economy initiative of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. This investment will inform an integrated approach of both upstream and downstream pathways for reducing marine debris across the entire plastics supply chain, moving toward a circular economy.”

All of this coupled with forthcoming research from the Trash Free Seas Alliance®, represents an important step toward the goal of reducing plastic waste leaking into the ocean annually by 50% by 2025.

It is important to find hope and celebrate progress. I hope you are as excited by these recent achievements as I am–all of which wouldn’t have been possible without your support. Thank you.

I’d like to end with these words from President Obama, who spoke about global conservation challenges at the Our Ocean conference: “We can solve this problem, we just have to have the will to take collective action.”

Ocean Conservancy has been at the forefront of this global challenge for more than 30 years. Together, we will find and solve the ocean plastic crisis. We’re committed to working with all of you to take action to get to a future of trash free seas.

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