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OECD Secretary-General

OECD Workshop on Marine Plastic Litter

 

Transcirpt of the Video Message by Angel Gurría 

OECD Secretary-General

11 June 2020 - Paris, OECD

(As prepared for delivery) 

 

 


Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Welcome to the “OECD Workshop on Reducing Marine Plastic Litter”. I would like to thank the Ministry of Environment of Japan for their generous support, without which this workshop would not have been possible.


Our discussions come at a particularly important time. Global plastics production has increased exponentially over the past 60 years, from next to nothing in 1950 to around 400 million metric tonnes today. This is equivalent to 1,200 Empire State Buildings or almost 40,000 Eiffel Towers in weight terms! And this growth is expected to continue at the rate of around 4% annually for the foreseeable future.


In parallel, the amount of plastic waste we generate has also increased at a rate which is similar to production.


Unfortunately, mismanaged plastic waste that leaks into the ocean has severe consequences for marine biodiversity and the ocean economy.

Already, plastic is present in all the world’s ocean basins, including around remote islands, the poles and in the deep seas. Up to 13 million tonnes are introduced into the ocean each year. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to an increased use of single-use facemasks and gloves, is likely to add to these pressures, as these items are already being found in our oceans.
 

Already, plastic is present in all the world’s ocean basins, including around remote islands, the poles and in the deep seas. Up to 13 million tonnes are introduced into the ocean each year. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to an increased use of single-use facemasks and gloves, is likely to add to these pressures, as these items are already being found in our oceans.


We have seen the heart-wrenching impacts of this plastic waste: whales found with plastic bags and golf balls in their stomachs; sea turtles strangled by fishing gear; and with time, plastic debris also degrades into microplastics, which are easily ingested by marine species and enter the food chain.


Marine litter also has a range of socioeconomic impacts on tourism, fishing and aquaculture, as well as shipping. The annual cost of ocean plastics to fisheries and tourism alone amounts to an estimated USD 13 billion.


Governments must act to tackle these challenges and reduce the adverse impacts of mismanaged plastic waste. But as Prime Minister Abe aptly said at last year’s G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, “marine plastic litter is an issue which cannot be resolved by some countries alone”.


The challenge of marine litter was first introduced by the G20 in 2017 with the adoption of the ‘Action Plan on Marine Litter’. And in 2019, G20 countries united around the “Osaka Blue Ocean Vision”, committing themselves to reducing additional pollution by marine plastic litter to zero by 2050. As we design the solutions to reset and relaunch our economies in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, we have a unique opportunity to introduce the measures that will allow to implement the Osaka Vision. The OECD is ready to help.


Indeed, the OECD has been an active promoter of policy discussions aimed at combating marine plastic litter for many years. Our recent work includes: analysis of markets for recycled plastics; policies that aim to prevent the generation of single-use plastics waste; as well as opportunities to design more sustainable plastics and to mitigate the leakage of microplastics into the environment. Last December, we also organised the OECD Regional Policy Dialogue on “Harnessing the sustainable ocean economy in Southeast Asia” in Bali, Indonesia, where financing for reducing marine plastic pollution was a core topic. I am also pleased to announce that we will be launching a new “Global Plastics Outlook”, consolidating these issues in a key publication due to be published next year.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,


Over the next two days, we will be taking stock of policies and measures that can pave the way towards longer-term goals of reducing marine plastic litter, enshrined in the “Osaka Blue Ocean Vision”.


The outcomes of this workshop will be an important contribution to guiding our ongoing and future work in this field. You can count on the OECD to continue working with and for you in tackling these challenges and ensuring greater protection and sustainability for our ocean.


Remember the words of the American marine biologist Sylvia Earle: "We need to respect the oceans and take care of them as if our lives depended on it. Because they do."


Have a great Workshop!

 

 

See also:

OECD work on Oceans

 

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