Ocean Action Hub

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Governments agree landmark decisions to protect people and planet from plastic waste

14 May 2019 - Almost all governments have agreed to include plastic waste in a legally-binding framework to better regulate its global trade, and launched a new 'Partnership on Plastic Waste' in support.

14 May 2019 - Decisions on plastic waste have been reached in Geneva, as approximately 180 governments adopted a raft of decisions aimed at protecting human health and the environment from the harmful effects of hazardous chemicals and waste.

Pollution from plastic waste, acknowledged as a major environmental problem of global concern, has reached epidemic proportions with an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic now found in the oceans, 80-90% of which comes from land-based sources.

Governments last week amended the Basel Convention to include plastic waste in a legally-binding framework which will make global trade in plastic waste more transparent and better regulated, whilst also ensuring that its management is safer for human health and the environment. At the same time, a new Partnership on Plastic Waste was established to mobilise business, government, academic and civil society resources, interests and expertise to assist in implementing the new measures, to provide a set of practical supports – including tools, best practices, technical and financial assistance - for this ground-breaking agreement.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/governments-agree-landmark-decisions-protect-people-and-planet

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No fishing allowed in Ascension Island’s new marine protected area (MPA)

25 Mar 2019 - Ascension Island, in the southern Atlantic Ocean, is getting a new MPA to safeguard green turtles, swordfish, sharks, tuna, marlin, frigatebirds and terns.

25 Mar 2019 - Ascension Island, in the southern Atlantic Ocean, is getting a new MPA twice the size of the United Kingdom (UK).

Full protection of 443,000 square kilometres of ocean around the British overseas territory will safeguard green turtles, swordfish, sharks, tuna and marlin as well as frigatebirds and terns.

UN Environment Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh hailed the move: “I'm delighted to hear that the UK has heeded our call to fully protect the waters around Ascension Island, a jewel in the Atlantic Ocean. Protecting 30 per cent of the world's oceans need not be a dream.” Currently, marine protected areas cover 7.6 per cent of the global ocean.

Pugh visited Ascension Island as a young boy and says he will never forget watching sharks circling his boat, green turtles laying eggs, and the teeming wildlife.

“Ascension Island is a rare survivor of extraordinary abundance in a sea of decline,” he says, thanking the Blue Marine Foundation, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Great British Oceans Coalition, non-governmental organizations, scientists, civil servants and politicians for making this happen.

Conservationists have hailed the United Kingdom Government’s support for designating all the remote island’s waters as a marine protected area.

United Kingdom Chancellor Philip Hammond used his spring statement to announce the government’s support to the Ascension Island Council’s call to designate all its waters as a marine protected area, with no fishing allowed.

The move is part of the country’s Blue Belt programme to protect millions of square kilometres of oceans in its overseas territories. Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “With a marine estate stretching across the globe, the UK is uniquely positioned to lead the way in protecting the world’s oceans and precious marine life.

“Today’s progress towards fully protecting all of Ascension Island’s waters is an important step forward in expanding our Blue Belt and protecting a third of the world’s ocean by 2030. I hope countries around the world will follow suit.”

Marine protected areas are an important tool in conserving the biodiversity of the world’s oceans.

“Ambitious interventions to protect marine and coastal ecosystems like those of Ascension island are extremely useful,” says UN Environment marine specialist Ole Vestegaard, “not only for the unique underwater biodiversity they host, but also for their valuable contribution to ocean health and function, underpinning food-security and resilience—in essence, a cost-effective nature-based solution to climate change.”

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/no-fishing-allowed-ascension-islands-new-marine-protected-area

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4th UNEA concludes with world committing to significantly reduce single-use plastic by 2030

19 Mar 2019 - At UN Environment Assembley in Nairobi delegates pledge to protect polluted, degraded planet as it adopts blueprint for more sustainable future.

  • At a meeting of the world’s top environmental body, ministers lay groundwork for a new model of development to protect planet’s degraded resources
  • Ministers agree to tackle environmental crisis through innovation and sustainable consumption and production
  • Delegates commit to significantly reduce single-use plastic products by 2030
  • Fourth UN Environment Assembly takes place in sombre atmosphere after crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight to Nairobi on Sunday

19 Mar 2019 - Last week the world laid the groundwork for a radical shift to a more sustainable future, where innovation will be harnessed to tackle environmental challenges, the use of throwaway plastics will be significantly reduced, and development will no longer cost the earth.

After five days of talks at the Fourth UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, ministers from more than 170 United Nations Member States delivered a bold blueprint for change, saying the world needed to speed up moves towards a new model of development in order to respect the vision laid out in the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

Noting that they were deeply concerned by mounting evidence that the planet is increasingly polluted, rapidly warming and dangerously depleted, the ministers pledged to address environmental challenges through advancing innovative solutions and adopting sustainable consumption and production patterns.

“We reaffirm that poverty eradication, changing unsustainable and promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production and protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development are the overarching objectives of, and essential requirements for, sustainable development,” the ministers said in a final declaration.

“We will improve national resource management strategies with integrated full lifecycle approaches and analysis to achieve resource-efficient and low-carbon economies,” they said.

More than 4,700 delegates, including environment ministers, scientists, academics, business leaders and civil society representatives, met in Nairobi for the Assembly, the world’s top environmental body whose decisions will set the global agenda, notably ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit in September.

CONTINE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/world-pledges-protect-polluted-degraded-planet-it-adopts-blueprint

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Building the world’s first land-based coral farm

31 Jan 2019 - The world has already lost half of all coral reefs. Young Champion of the Earth Gator Halpern and Coral Vita Reefs are building the world’s first commercial, land-based coral farm, to restore them.

31 Jan 2019 - Gator Halpern, winner of the Young Champion of the Earth award 2018 in Latin America and the Caribbean, and his team at Coral Vita are off to a flying start in 2019.  

They are building the world’s first commercial, land-based coral farm, to restore our planet’s dying coral reefs. The world has already lost half of all coral reefs, making Halpern’s mission more urgent than ever.

Combining techniques in science and research with tremendous developments in the private sector, the Coral Vita team is stepping up in 2019.

 “Last month was crazy, with the team attending a range of conferences and events. Coral Vita won the Ocean Exchange pitch competition, and we were part of a team that won the XPrize Visioneering competition—there will now be an XPrize on reef restoration,” said Halpern.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/building-worlds-first-land-based-coral-farm

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Billions to be gained in coral reef investment, new analysis shows

9 Nov 2018 - Investing in coral reefs to prevent their current rate of decline could net $37b for Indonesia, $35b for Mesoamerican Reef by 2030, case studies show

9 Nov 2018  - New findings released offer a compelling business case for investing in the protection of the world’s coral reefs, with economic benefits stretching into the tens of billions in just over a decade.

  • Investing in coral reefs to prevent their current rate of decline could net $37b for Indonesia, $35b for Mesoamerican Reef by 2030, case studies show
  • Without urgent intervention, the world is on track to lose up to 90 per cent of its coral reefs within the next 30 years
  • Private sector investment is urgently needed to close the funding gaps in one of the world’s vital ecosystems

Focussing on two of the world’s major coral reef areas, the Coral Triangle and the Mesoamerican Reef, the study, The Coral Reef Economy, compared the estimated economic outcomes of two scenarios from now until 2030: one a Healthy Reef Scenario, where reefs are returned to a healthy state through increased investment in protection and preservation; and two, a Degraded Reef Scenario, where the health of the reefs continues to decline from current levels.

The contrast is stark: a shift to improved coral reef health from one of further decline in the period to 2030 could unlock an additional $37 billion ($2.6 billion per annum) in Indonesia and an additional $35 billion ($2.5 billion per annum) in Mesoamerica in three key reef-dependent sectors: tourism; commercial fisheries; and coastal development.

Jerker Tamelander, head of UN Environment’s coral reef unit, said: “Investing in coral reefs offers a significant prize, not only economic, but importantly also for the marine life, and coastal populations who depend so heavily on healthy coral reefs for their food, livelihoods and protection.”

Coral reefs are exceptionally valuable; they provide food, livelihoods and economic opportunity to more than half a billion people in over 100 countries, and coastal protection from increasing extreme weather events; they are also teeming with life, hosting a quarter of all known marine species.

Yet these vital ecosystems are being rapidly degraded as a result of warming sea temperatures due to climate change, overfishing, destructive fishing, ocean acidification, and a range of land-based activities. The world has already lost at least one-fifth of the world’s coral reefs, and is facing the very real threat of losing as much as 90 per cent of all its coral reefs within the next 30 years.

Tamelander added: “Climate change is a source of significant uncertainty - and risk. Realizing the full potential financial returns reefs can generate requires that urgent action is taken to limit climate change so as to avoid global scale reef loss.” 

The report’s findings show if coral reefs continue to decline in line with historical trends, the value of the reef to key sectors could fall in real terms by $3.1 billion in Mesoamerica and $2.2 billion in Indonesia per annum by 2030 compared to today. Such losses could have profound follow-on effects on local livelihoods and government taxation revenues in each region, further compounding the potential losses to reef-dependent communities.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/billions-be-gained-coral-reef-investment-new-analysis-shows

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Single-use Plastics: A roadmap for Sustainability

This paper sets out the latest thinking on how we rethink the way we manufacture, use and manage plastics in order to tackle one of the biggest environmental scourges of our time - plastic pollution.

The benefits of plastic are undeniable. The material is cheap, lightweight and easy to make. These qualities have led to a boom in the production of plastic over the past century. This trend will continue as global plastic production skyrockets over the next 10 to 15 years. We are already unable to cope with the amount of plastic waste we generate, unless we rethink the way we manufacture, use and manage plastics. Ultimately, tackling one of the biggest environmental scourges of our time will require governments to regulate, businesses to innovate and individuals to act.

This paper sets out the latest thinking on how we can achieve this. It looks at what governments, businesses and individuals have achieved at national and sub-national levels to curb the consumption of single-use plastics. It offers lessons that may be useful for policymakers who are considering regulating the production and use of single-use plastics.

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4th Intergovernmental Review Meeting on the Implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA)

Bali, Indonesia. Intergovernmental Review Meetings (IGR) are organised every 5 years.

The IGR is a forum where governments and other stakeholders review the status of the implementation of the GPA and decide on action to be taken to strengthen its implementation. UNEP hosts the GPA Coordination Office.

This meeting was originally scheduled to take place in October 2017.

Dates: 31 October – 1 November 2018
Location: Bali, Jakarta Raya, Indonesia
Contact: GPA Coordination Office
www: https://www.unenvironment.org/explore-topics/oceans-seas/what-we-do/addressing-land-based-pollution/governing-global-programme-1

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#CleanSeas: Turn the tide on plastic
http://www.cleanseas.orgSee what #CleanSeas actions others are taking and join in!
See what #CleanSeas actions others are taking and join in!


23 Feb 2017 - UN Environment has launched an unprecedented global campaign to eliminate major sources of marine litter: microplastics in cosmetics and the excessive, wasteful usage of single-use plastic by the year 2022.

Launched at The Economist's World Ocean Summit in Bali, the #CleanSeas campaign is urging governments to pass plastic reduction policies; targeting industry to minimize plastic packaging and redesign products; and calling on consumers to change their throwaway habits – before irreversible damage is done to our seas.

Throughout 2017, the #CleanSeas campaign will be announcing ambitious measures by countries and businesses to eliminate microplastics from personal care products, ban or tax single-use bags, and dramatically reduce other disposable plastic items.

Ten countries have already joined the campaign with far-reaching pledges to turn the plastic tide. Indonesia has committed to slash its marine litter by a massive 70 per cent by 2025; Uruguay will tax single-use plastic bags later this year and Costa Rica will take measures to dramatically reduce single-use plastic through better waste management and education.

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Clean Seas

By 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in our oceans.

UN Environment launched the #CleanSeas campaign on February 23, 2017 to turn the tide on plastic. Visit www.cleanseas.org for more information.