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Fighting for Trash Free Seas®

Ending the flow of trash at the source

Urban Ocean®

Building Clean, Healthy Cities for Clean, Healthy Seas

Urban Ocean is a capacity-building and accelerator program to end ocean plastic pollution and build more resilient communities in cities. Urban Ocean champions circular economy principles, builds awareness of ocean plastic, assesses waste management systems, and supports cities to develop projects that address the interrelated challenges of ocean plastics and resilience. Since 2019, the program has been jointly implemented in twelve cities by Resilient Cities Network, Ocean Conservancy and The Circulate Initiative.

The Problem

Trash with Nowhere Else to Go

11 million tonnes of plastic waste enter the ocean every year, with this number expected to triple by 2040. While awareness of the crisis of marine debris has increased rapidly over the past few years, there is still considerable work to be done, such as reducing the production of single-use plastics and improving waste management systems. There is also a need to connect these solutions with the unique needs and priorities of communities to ensure sustainable and efficient use of local resources.

The Solution

Cities – Going from Source to Solution of Ocean Plastic

Urban Ocean is a capacity-building and accelerator program that enhances understanding of the ocean plastics challenge and circular economy principles. The program assesses the waste management system in select cities to support development of financeable strategies and projects designed to address the interrelated challenges they identify. The program provides a platform for cities to showcase their leadership and share their knowledge and experiences across the Urban Ocean network and beyond.

Areas of Action

The program has three areas of action:
  1. Establishing a peer network of cities that commit to and jointly work on solving interrelated problems around waste management, resilience, circular economy and ocean plastics through sharing of best practices and capacity development.
  2. Assessing the situation on the ground using the Circularity Assessment Protocol (CAP) to enable cities to comprehensively map challenges, risks and vulnerabilities which will inform strategy and project development.
  3. Developing project strategies, solutions and proposals that can be presented to potential partners to build appropriate public-private partnerships between cities, businesses and financing organizations.

Why Partner with Urban Ocean?

Initiated in 2019, Urban Ocean has developed a proof-of-concept that combines Dr. Jenna Jambeck’s scientific baseline assessment methodology and project identification and prioritization carried out by the three program partners. Urban Ocean leverages the expertise of The Circulate Initiative, Ocean Conservancy, Resilient Cities Network and a diverse group of stakeholders who have the power to collectively solve the plastic pollution challenge in cities around the globe.

Urban Ocean Cities

Participating Cities

  • Can Tho, Vietnam
  • Chennai, India
  • Melaka, Malaysia
  • Mumbai, India
  • Panama City, Panama
  • Pune, India
  • Santiago, Chile
  • Semarang, Indonesia
  • Surat, India
  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • Santa Fe, Argentina
  • Salvador, Brazil

Mentoring Cities

  • Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Milan, Italy
  • Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • Toyama, Japan
  • Vejle, Denmark

Urban Ocean Resources

Take a Deep Dive into Urban Ocean

Urban Ocean Toolkit
Learn more about the rich body of information and tools Urban Ocean has developed for cities with this interactive toolkit. It is our hope that this will help additional communities build clean, healthy cities for clean, healthy seas.

Urban Ocean City CAP Reports
Led by University of Georgia’s New Materials Institute and Circularity Informatics Lab as part of the Urban Ocean process, each Learning City conducts a Gap Assessment to map challenges, risks, and vulnerabilities within materials management systems and develop an integrated picture of the materials and circular economy-related challenges and opportunities the city faced.

Project Statements
Read how Urban Ocean cities are improving waste management and cleaning waterways through their efforts. These project statements provide an in-depth look at how five cities are working with communities, creating job opportunities, strengthening the circular economy and decreasing waste generated.

Project Opportunities to Accelerate Clean, Healthy Cities and Seas
Review our Urban Ocean cities’ project plans that outline the opportunities and needs cities have identified after participating in assessments developed by Urban Ocean partners.

Circular Economy Resources for Cities

Explore How Cities Can Tackle Plastic Pollution

The Circulate Initiative’s Knowlege Bank
Discover research, resources and tools focused on solutions to address ocean plastics and measures of impact.

Video Playlist
Explore videos about the Urban Ocean program and presentations designed to inform and educate city leaders on:

  • Science-based Solutions to Macro- and Micro- plastics in Municipal Waterways,
  • Locally Appropriate Public Outreach Strategies to Reduce and Prevent Marine Debris
  • Urban Ocean Circularity Assessment Findings

Six Proven Tech Solutions to Prevent Ocean Plastic Pollution
Learn about innovative solutions cities can employ to prevent trash from ending up in the ocean.

Six Ways Cities Can Engage on Ghost Gear
Learn how cities can help address the issue of lost or abandoned fishing gear (“ghost gear”) in the ocean.

Five Criteria for Investment in Waste Management and Recycling Businesses
Learn how cities can evaluate investment opportunities in waste management and recycling.

Tips for Partnering with the Private Sector
Local industry and brand leaders can play a valuable and complementary role to accelerate action on plastic pollution, which is why the Urban Ocean program has created a check list for cities to consider before engaging with potential private sector partners.

Six Proven Levers for Behavior Change to Prevent Plastic Marine Debris
Understand the psychology and motivations that drive behavior and how you can build an effective strategy to change harmful habits.

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