The continuous growth in the amount of solid waste is an economic, environmental, human health and aesthetic problem posing a complex and multi-dimensional challenge. Under the UN Environment/MAP, representatives of 22 Governments endorsed the Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean (RPML).
To support this regional plan, UN Environment/MAP, through its various projects, is assembling governments, international agencies, NGOs, academia, private sector, civil society and individuals. Together, they are working to reduce the impacts of marine litter on economies, ecosystems, animal welfare and human health. To this end, they are enhancing international cooperation and coordination, promoting knowledge management, information and monitoring, promoting resource efficiency and increasing awareness on sources of marine litter, their fate and impacts.
Coordinated assistance of national authorities and regional bodies is one of the UN Environment/MAP tasks.Deciding on what constitutes the target or preferred status is however part of the governance process, informed by scientific evidence, considering other social, economic and political constraints and factors. UN Environment/MAP and governments from the Mediterranean countries have to face very diverse situations, perceptions, states of development, funding schemes and levels of knowledge. The management of such complex tasks is impossible without regional expertise and relevant science-based policies.
Experts from the Mediterranean countries bring together their knowledge and diversity, providing scientific and technical basis for monitoring and rethinking our approach to support reduction measures that enable a transition to a circular economy.
Besides, the important initiatives managed by the UN Environment/MAP, various organisation, countries and institutions, including the European Union, are supporting a better knowledge and management of marine litter issues through a number of projects.
SwitchMed is a project supports and connects stakeholders to scale-up social and eco innovations in the Mediterranean with some initiatives on marine litter. They involve many Mediterranean countries such as Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, and Algeria, and provide all Mediterranean stakeholders with tools and connections to support eco innovations and achieve productive, circular and sharing economies in the Mediterranean.
The ENPI-SEIS II /South project, within an EEA-UN Environment/MAP 2016-2020 joint plan, is working towards encompassing environmental data and information from all the Mediterranean countries, with consideration to marine litter through indicators and assessments, data, information system, coordination, communication and management.
Ongoing or recently finalised projects include projects for coordinating methodologies for monitoring Marine Litter and their impacts (MEDCIS, INDICIT, IDEM) and the recently finalized studies to support the development of measures to combat a range of marine litter sources (BIOCLEAN, CLAIM, ECSAFESEAFOOD, CLEANSEA, MARELITT , MARLISCO, Defishgear, PERSEUS, Sea litter critters). The LIFE Programme also supports marine litter related projects such as SMILE, AMMOS, GHOST, LIFE DEBAG and MERMAIDS.
Inter-regional studies were initiated recently to support the implementation of Marine litter management at the Mediterranean scale with specific focus on floating litter (MEDSEALitter), monitoring and management of marine litter in marine protected areas (Act4 litter, AMARE) some of them being supported by the Union For the Mediterranean (PlasticbusterMPA, PANACEA) or focusing on waste management (Blueisland, MELTEMI).
Implementation of monitoring is also organized through permanent projects such as fish stock assessment programmes that include large-scale annual surveys for sea floor litter and harmonized databases for beach litter, sea floor litter and microplastics organized through the EMODNet Chemistry/Marine litter project.
The Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter is an initiative from industries with the objectives of raising awareness, promoting best policies, sharing knowledge and promoting relevant measures (recovery, prevention of pellet loss, etc.). This initiative is also working to get a common list of marine litter projects, with already many of them covering the Mediterranean Sea.