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A Voice for our Ocean

Ocean Conservancy, 100 Resilient Cities, Circulate Capital, SecondMuse, and the Trash Free Seas Alliance® Launch “Urban Ocean” Initiative to Fight Ocean Plastic at World Ocean Summit

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ABU DHABI, UAE – At the Economist World Ocean Summit today Ocean Conservancy, 100 Resilient Cities, Circulate Capital, SecondMuse, and the Trash Free Seas Alliance® announced the launch of Urban Ocean, a new initiative to engage cities in the fight for clean, healthy seas by improving municipal waste collection and management systems. Working with leaders from city governments, academia, civil society and the private sector, the platform will develop best practices for embedding the reduction of marine plastic waste into other core city priorities like public health, economic growth and job creation.

“We simply cannot win the fight against ocean plastic without cities and city leaders by our side,” said Susan Ruffo, managing director of international initiatives at Ocean Conservancy. “A range of solutions is needed to curb ocean plastic pollution, but the science shows that a critical first step is making sure that every piece of plastic is collected and ideally recycled before it ever reaches the ocean. And because cities often lead waste management systems and are key actors in citizen education and awareness, they are a critical partner.”

“Today, cities are home to more than half of the world’s population and they have a critical role to play in reducing ocean plastic and developing circular economies,” said Elizabeth Yee, Vice President of Resilience Finance at 100 Resilient Cities. “Cities need to work closely with partners from across private, public, nongovernmental and academic sectors to develop multi-benefit solutions that build resilience long term. Through this work, cities will better embed resilience in their systems and infrastructure, reduce waste, and deliver a wide range of resilience benefits to their residents.”

Approximately 8 million metric tons of plastic flows into the ocean every year, most from mismanaged waste streams on land. Larger cities are a major source, particularly in developing economies where economic growth has outpaced infrastructure development. At the same time, cities generally have a leading role in building and running water, sanitation and waste management systems; rely on these systems to improve public health and safety, increase economic development, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and are key actors in citizen education and awareness. Urban Ocean will provide a platform for cities, private companies, NGOs, and academics to work towards shared goals of:

  • Building cleaner, healthier, safer and more resilient cities;
  • Reducing landfill greenhouse gas emissions by increasing recycling rates;
  • Preventing plastic from entering the ocean;
  • Growing investment and job creation, particularly in small to medium enterprises in the waste sector;
  • Forming innovative public/private partnerships to increase waste collection and recycling and reduce leakage; and
  • Developing a circular economy, where materials never become waste but rather are collected and reused or recycled.

“Plastic pollution is a land-based problem with ocean impact and we know establishing integrated waste management is a critical part of the solution,” said Rob Kaplan, founder and CEO of Circulate Capital. “Ocean Conservancy and 100 Resilient Cities are well suited to lead this focus on public-private partnerships and help support policy and education in cities. Circulate Capital is proud to join these organizations and others to build the coalitions needed to tackle this challenge at both the local and global level.”

“As the threat of the plastic pollution problem is becoming more and more ominous, it is also clear that there is not going to be a one size fits all solution,” said Todd Khozein, Managing Partner at SecondMuse. “We are going to need to build entire ecosystems devoted to solving it at all levels and this is going to have to happen in cities throughout the world. SecondMuse is proud to be part of this initiative trying to solve a critical challenge alongside great partners.”

The initiative will begin with cities in South and Southeast Asia and Latin America where there is strong need and political will for tackling these related issues. The program will then be scaled up, adding new elements and learning from the original sites.


About Ocean Conservancy

Ocean Conservancy works to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together with our partners, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it.

About 100 Resilient Cities

100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to social, economic, and physical challenges that are a growing part of the 21st Century. 100RC provides this assistance through: funding for a Chief Resilience Officer in each of our cities who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a resilience strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges. For more information, visit:

About Circulate Capital

Circulate Capital is an investment management firm dedicated to incubating and financing companies and infrastructure that prevent ocean plastic. We focus on the prevention of mismanaged plastic waste in countries located in South Asia and Southeast Asia, regions that contribute disproportionately to ocean plastic pollution primarily because they often lack the critical waste infrastructure to manage the problem. We were created in collaboration with Closed Loop Partners and Ocean Conservancy, and our founding investors are expected to include PepsiCo, the first investor; Procter & Gamble, Dow, Danone, Unilever and The Coca-Cola Company.

About SecondMuse

SecondMuse is a global business accelerator that is building economies of the future that create social and environmental justice. We have been at the vanguard of global innovation for more than a decade, collaborating with visionary governments, corporations, foundations and startups. At the core of our economies are communities and networks, not goods and services, and we attribute our success to putting people first. From Brooklyn to Bali, our programs have spanned geographies and sectors for over a decade.

About the Trash Free Seas Alliance®

Launched by Ocean Conservancy in 2012, the Trash Free Seas Alliance® brings together thought leaders from industry, conservation and academia to create a forum for pragmatic, real-world collaboration focused on the measurable reduction of ocean trash. Visit the Trash Free Seas Alliance® webpage for more information.

Media Contacts:

Jordana Merran, Ocean Conservancy
[email protected]

Andrew Brenner, 100 Resilient Cities
[email protected]

Media Contact

Jordana Merran




Trash Free Seas

We’re working on innovative solutions to reduce the amount of trash that ends up in our ocean, threatening ocean wildlife through ingestion and entanglement.

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