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Marine conservation

Marine biodiversity and the battle against marine litter

Diver and turtle

Marine litter poses a great danger not only to marine ecosystems and human and animal health but also to fishing and tourism. Plastic packaging and waste are the main forms of litter to be found in the oceans. Microplastics, mainly from cosmetics, also end up in the oceans and are absorbed by human and animal organisms.

It is estimated that 4.8 to 12.7 billion tonnes of plastic waste end up in the sea each year. There are some carpets of waste floating on the ocean that are the size of Central Europe.

More and more waste is being produced worldwide due to global economic development and population growth. Scientists estimate that, by 2050, there could be more plastic in the oceans than there is fish. At the root of marine littering is often a lack of waste management systems for properly collecting waste and providing landfill sites and recycling plants to dispose of and recycle waste.

The G20 has therefore adopted a Marine Litter Action Plan to prevent and reduce marine litter. Under this plan, the member states have committed to cut the amount of waste being introduced from land into rivers and wastewater and, in this way, reduce the amount of waste to be found in the oceans.

At the centre of the Action Plan is a voluntary platform, the Global Network of the Committed, to support the plan's implementation. The aim of the platform is to include non-governmental players in the process of networking and knowledge-sharing, because other stakeholders, like the private sector, also need to play their part, for example by producing less plastic. The G20 is helping in this way to implement existing international agreements. These include SDG 14.1, which calls for a significant reduction by 2025 in marine pollution, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution.


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