Mission Clean Oceans - How can science and innovation tackle ocean pollution?
Our oceans and seas are in the process of turning into a gigantic waste dump. Pollution threatens ecological health, coastal security, our blue economy and a basis of our wellbeing. Plastic litter remains a great threat and a major environmental issue to people worldwide. The equivalent of 850 shipping containers filled with plastics are dumped into the rivers and ocean every day resulting now in over 5 trillion floating plastic pieces reaching even the most remote parts of our ocean. Excess nutrients, chemical and pharmaceutical waste, munition, noise, microbes, and other pollutants add further stress to the marine biodiversity and ecosystems.
The new European Commission’s President aims to move Europe towards a zero-pollution ambition. In particular, the proposed new research and innovation programme Horizon Europe, includes Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters as one of the only five priorities (“Missions”). Issues of ocean pollution are also priority topics for the Joint Programming Initiative for Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans (JPI Oceans) and for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN*).
The European Commission’s leadership towards a Green Deal, the recent constitution of the new European Parliament and re-establishment of its SEARICA Intergroup, and the progressing discussions of the Oceans Mission Board provide converging opportunities and an inspiring backdrop for experts and stakeholders to discuss how science and innovation can tackle the problem of ocean pollution from plastics and beyond.
*IUCN marine work is supported by Principauté de Monaco