IDS is partnering with the EU, UN, Chatham House and other organisations to host a high level side event on circular economy solutions to tackling ocean plastic pollution, during this year’s United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi (4-6 December). The event will showcase specific examples of collaborative action and policies that aim to reduce plastic waste, address unsustainable consumption and production patterns and redirect investment for a clean, efficient and circular economy. Ahead of the event, I want to highlight the importance of a universal development approach and transformative social science research, as solutions to the ocean plastics problem.
Ocean plastics pollution – not just an environmental issue
Plastics pollution of oceans has emerged as a major global environmental crisis. Between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes of plastics enter the ocean each year. It is devastating for marine ecosystems and the accumulation of microplastics in food chains pose a risk to human health. And the issue is becoming more serious. By 2050, plastics production is expected to increase to over 2000 tonnes per year, up from 311 million tonnes in 2014.
Plastics end up in the ocean as the result of chains of human activities in different parts of the world. We are all contributing to it. China, Indonesia and the Philippines have been identified as the top three sources of ocean plastics pollution by the Ocean Conservancy. While litter found on the sea floor around the UK has risen 150% in the last year and UK plastic waste drifts to the artic where is has a very damaging impact on one of the most vulnerable ecosystems in the world.
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