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THE MEDITERRANEAN MARINE LITTER NODE

The Mediterranean Sea is one of the areas most affected by Marine litter worldwide.

Indeed, its densely populated, very urbanized coasts accommodate 30% of all maritime traffic and highly developed tourism.

Coastal landfills and discharges, industrial and urban outfalls, tourism, shipping, fishing and aquaculture and illegal dumping can cause serious damage.

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Furthermore, rivers and floodwaters carry litter from other inland areas, and because of the basin’s limited exchanges with other oceans, the litter accumulates inside the basin

Poor practices of solid waste management, wastewater collection and treatment, lack of infrastructure and public awareness aggravate the situation substantially.

Policies

The generation of marine litter is linked to a variety of human activities and policy areas, and a better management of these human activities is therefore a prerequisite to avoid plastic litter entering the marine environment.

In the recent years, a wide array of stakeholders, governments, businesses and regional organisations suggested ways forward in order to address marine litter. Actions contributing to the reduction through regional, nationally or coordinated international measures include key strategies.

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The Mediterranean Action Plan

THE ACTION PLAN:

By adopting the Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean (RPML) in 2013, the Mediterranean became the first regional sea with contracting parties committed to legally binding measures, programmes, and related implementation timetables on management at regional and national levels. At the same time, it contributes to the Marine litter global initiatives (Honolulu strategy, SDG14, G7, G20 and UNEA). 

The major objective of the RPML is to achieve a good environmental status through the prevention and reduction of marine litter and by limiting its environmental, health, and socio-economic impacts to a minimum.

Most of the measures aim at improving solid waste management, removing existing marine litter and eliminating hot spots. 

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INITIATIVES ON MARINE LITTER

International binding agreements with relevance to the issue of marine plastic litter and microplastics vary in scope, objectives, applicable approaches and principles, including reporting and compliance requirements. These include Pollution oriented agreements (UNCLOS, the London Convention, the Annex V of MARPOL), Biodiversity and species-oriented agreements (CBD, UN Fish stocks Agreement) and Chemicals and waste oriented agreements (Stockholm and Basel conventions).

United Nations related initiatives

Marine pollution from land-based sources is addressed in the voluntary/soft law Global Programme of Action (GPA) for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities. The programme is designed to be a source of conceptual..

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The EU-funded Marine Litter MED Project

The overall objective of EU-funded Marine litter MED projects is to support UN Environment/MAP Barcelona Convention and its Contracting Parties through the implementation of the Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management..

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G7 and G20 Action Plans on Marine Litter

The Implementation of the G7 Action Plan to Combat Marine Litter [10], mainstreaming the work of the Regional Seas Programmes include capacity building and sharing of best practices, ongoing coordination with European Regional Seas conventions..

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The Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP)

Sustainable consumption and production, related to the UN SDG goal 12 is about sustainable infrastructure, and access to basic services, green and decent jobs and a better quality of life for all..

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EXPERTS AND PROJECTS

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. 

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INFORMATION HUB

EDUCATION AND AWARENESS

Mediterranean organisations like MIO-ECSDE, Medassset, legambiante and many local groups are bringing their longstanding experience in advocacy, awareness raising and networking on marine litter issues.

All are working through a combination of approaches including public exhibitions, information campaigns, and a legacy of educational and decision-supporting tools. 

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SCIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE

The Mediterranean countries share a common historical and cultural legacy, often built through maritime links dating back millennia. They are currently working towards a common future with shared scientific, cultural and environmental aspirations.

As a recent example, the regional plan of action on marine litter, the first ever coordinated action plan of the United Nations on this topic, was launched in 2013, bringing together all the actors in a harmonized approach. The focus is on addressing pollution, putting in place effective actions, which requires relevant knowledge and research with an important contribution from Mediterranean scientists to this field. 

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