Press Releases March 2011 - New international co-operation to tackle marine debris - United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
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New international co-operation to tackle marine debris

Honolulu (USA) / Nairobi, 25 March 2011 - Government representatives, major industries and leading marine researchers have come together to make a new set of commitments to tackle the widespread problem of debris in the world's seas and oceans.

Despite decades of efforts to prevent and reduce marine debris, such as discarded plastic, abandoned fishing nets and industrial waste, there is evidence that the problem continues to grow. A lack of co-ordination between global and regional programmes, deficiencies in the enforcement of existing regulations and unsustainable consumption and production patterns have aggravated the problem.

By bringing together experts from some 35 countries, governments, research bodies, corporations including the Coca-Cola Company, and trade associations such as Plastics Europe, the Fifth International Marine Debris Conference resulted in new commitments and partnerships to address the issue of marine debris at global, national and local levels.

A key outcome of the conference, which was co-organised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and held in Honolulu, Hawaii from 20 to 25 March 2011, the Honolulu Commitment marks a new, cross-sectoral approach to help reduce the occurrence of marine debris, as well as the extensive damage it causes to marine habitats, the global economy, biodiversity and the risks posed to human health.

The Commitment encourages sharing of technical, legal and market-based solutions to reduce marine debris, improving local and regional understanding of the scale and impact of the problem and advocating the improvement of waste management worldwide.

"Marine debris - trash in our oceans - is a symptom of our throw-away society and our approach to how we use our natural resources. It affects every country and every ocean, and shows us in highly visible terms the urgency of shifting towards a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy as nations prepare for Rio+20 in 2012," said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner in a message to conference delegates. "The impact of marine debris today on flora and fauna in the oceans is one that we must now address with greater speed," added Mr. Steiner



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Marine debris has far-reaching effects on habitats, biodiversity, human health and the global economy


 

 

Further Resources

The Honolulu Commitment

Fifth International Marine Debris Conference

UNEP's work on Marine Debris

NOAA Marine Debris Programme

 

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