SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
18 May 2017
Volume 18 Issue 5
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Call for Tangible Initiatives to Help Reduce Contamination of Our Oceans

Annegaaike Leopold, Calidris environment bv, The Netherlands

The European Union is calling for new and significant, tangible and measurable initiatives from organizations and businesses that could have a positive impact on our oceans, to be presented at this year’s Our Ocean Conference (OOC), which will be held from 5–6 October 2017 in Malta. Since 2014, the annual OOC has brought together world leaders, public administrators and businesses from all over the globe to interact and find workable solutions for the planet's seas and oceans. This article calls on SETAC members to encourage your organization to contribute a winning initiative.

This year’s OOC is organized by the European Union. Hence, the Directorate General of the European Commission for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) and the European External Action Service (EEAS) are currently looking for initiatives in blue biotechnology, sustainable chemicals production, marine biogenic chemical development, (plastic) waste management and other related areas that will lead to a measurable reduction of marine contamination.

The conference website provides examples of initiatives that have emerged from the previous OOC. Up until now, 250 concrete actions have been undertaken across the world, committing more than 8.2 billion Euros (9.2 billion USD) and designating 9.9 million square kilometers as new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). These initiatives have come from countries, foundations and international organizations. Industry is considered to be an indispensable partner in finding solutions for our seas and oceans and has been underrepresented to date in the list of initiatives.

Last year, at the OOC2016, The Dow Chemical Company committed $2.8 million to a 2-year project that sponsors collaborative projects and educational programs designed to improve waste management infrastructure, promote recycling and prevent littering, and which support the development of new technologies to create a more circular economy and offer opportunities to turn waste into value. I am hopeful that many organizations, especially those from industry, will follow with novel proposals.

The European Commission will assess the proposals over the summer, and then the most relevant initiatives will be announced and the representatives invited to the conference in Malta. Those initiatives will also be placed on the map (see the website for more information). At OOC2018 in Indonesia, and in subsequent conferences to come, updates will be provided on how the different initiatives are evolving.

Besides government and business, financial organizations, research institutes and nongovernmental organizations are all encouraged to submit proposals. OOC2017 will also address additional challenges such as maritime, economic or environmental security, migration and capacity building. Tracking the progress of the project initiatives and celebrating completion will be a key part of the next conference. With a focus on high-level engagement, partnership and action, OOC continues to complement and drive other international efforts, such as delivery on the Sustainable Development Goals under Agenda 2030 of the United Nations.

We encourage you to respond and send in your organizations proposals by mid-June at the latest. Please send in your proposals to the European Commission DG Mare. You are welcome to contact Simkje Kruiderink at DG Mare at +32 2 297-7346 or simkje.kruiderink@ec.europa.eu for further information.

Author’s contact information: aleopold@calidrisenvironment.com

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