Marine Litter - Europe’s answers to a global challenge
The minutes of the conference can be found here
Marine Litter - not only a European but a global inescapable problem that has gained more awareness in recent years due to the seriousness of its impacts on our eco-systems, economies and society as a whole. Annually more than 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million birds die due to plastic pollution and increasing scientific data on microplastics and possible effects on human health are being gathered. Unfortunately, each year millions and millions of tons of plastic continue to leak into our oceans, with shocking estimates even predicting that if Business was to continue as usual, by 2050 there will be more plastics than fish in our oceans. With the Commission's Circular Economy Package, proposals to review the Waste Directives and joint interests by different sectors to prevent waste happening in the first place, henceforth a new promising plastics strategy might be on the rise, one where the inclusion of Marine Litter is indispensable.
From a global perspective, last year the UN adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals, containing targets for preventing and reducing all types of waste, with a dedicated target to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, including marine debris. In the EU, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) sets the framework for Member States to achieve by 2020 Good Environmental Status (GES) for their marine waters, considering 11 descriptors with one of them focussing on Marine Litter. By 2016 the member states have to implement concrete measures to combat this environmental threat and reach the aspirational target to reduce marine litter by 30% by 2020.
We all share responsibility in tackling this issue, therefore today scientific academia, the NGO sector, industry representatives and policy makers will allow for a multi-stakeholder view.