The world's oceans are indispensable to life, producing over half of our oxygen, helping to regulate our climate, absorbing carbon dioxide, and supporting the greatest abundance of life on our planet. They are also indispensable to the world's economy because they are key to transportation and recreation. And they are under serious threat from plastic pollution.
Every year, between 8 and 14 million metric tons of plastic are poured into the oceans. According to a recent UN Environmental Program report, [Oct. 21] plastic accounts for 85 per cent of all marine litter. The report notes that ecosystems, from water sources to the ocean, are under threat from plastic waste and estimates that if the global community fails to act, plastic pollution in oceans and other bodies of water could more than double by 2030.
“Our health, our survival is bound up in the health of our oceans. We have to do more to protect them,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken at an Ocean Plastics Event recently held in Nairobi, Kenya, under the auspices of the UN Environmental Program.
Secretary Blinken announced that the United States will support the upcoming multilateral negotiations on a global agreement to combat ocean plastic pollution. “By launching these negotiations at the UN Environmental Assembly in February 2022, our goal is to create a tool that we can use to protect our oceans and all of the life that they sustain from growing global harms of plastic pollution,” he said. “It’s crucial that the agreement call on countries to develop and enforce strong national action plans to address this problem at its source.”
The private sector must do more to cut plastic pollution, said Secretary Blinken. It must also invest in innovation. “We recognize that different actors will have different capacities to act, but every nation, every community, and indeed every individual has a role to play,” he said.
“We face a monumental challenge of protecting our oceans, but if we’re ambitious in both our global and our local efforts, if we can combine the efforts of government and industry with those of communities and individuals, if we empower the innovative approaches,” said Secretary Blinken, “I’m convinced we can overcome this challenge, we can meet it … and we can meet it together.”