This program is similar to carbon or water footprinting, but for plastic waste. It is a Clinton Global Initiative project, and endorsed by United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank. It is also one of only two global programs that exist on plastic pollution; the other is the Global Alert platform also developed by Ocean Recovery Alliance.
“These programs both work extraordinarily well because neither program requires bans or taxes or legislative changes;they just need people to use them,” explains Woodring. “These programs are valid and worthy because the big theme these days is moving into a ‘circular economy’ of resource recovery. Also, if you don’t measure what you have (via the Plastic Discovery Project), then it is hard to manage and understand what to circulate.
In addition to the leadership provided by the University of California Berkeley, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Chinese University in Hong Kong, and Tonji University in Shanghai are also implementing this program. But there are also positive movements around the world.”
Woodring explains one case study in South Africa. “Sustainable Seas Trust is now using Global Alert for the development of the African Marine Waste Action Consortium, a project to significantly reduce litter in coastal Africa and promote education.
Sustainable Seas Trust is working closely with Dr. Sylvia Earle and her Mission Blue team to expand the Hope Spots in South Africa, and to integrate waste and pollution management into existing Hope Spots, minimizing land-based impacts in protected areas.
The goal of this partnership is to replicate these best practices in other African countries.
Hope Spots are special places that are critical to the health of the ocean Earth‘s blue heart. Some of these Hope Spots are already formally protected, while others still need defined protection. About 12% of the land around the world is now under some form of protection as national parks, world heritage sites, monuments, etc., while less than 4% of the ocean is protected in any way. Mission Blue is committed to changing this, with networks of marine protected areas which maintain healthy biodiversity, provide a carbon sink, generate life-giving oxygen, preserve critical habitat and allow low-impact activities like ecotourism to thrive.
Sustainable Seas Trust has made the South African Hope Spots people orientated; they are community based and give everyone an opportunity to care for their own marine environment.
One of the obvious first steps is to get rid of marine debris, particularly plastic waste.
The Global Alert platform helped guide cleanup efforts with community mapping and reporting. While the Sustainable Seas Trust and its partners initiated coastal cleanup efforts. Estimates from one of the cleanups include 200 kg in False Bay, 150 km in Hermanus in Cape Whale Coast, 100 kg in Knysna, 150 kg in Plettenberg Bay, 450 kg in Algoa Bay Hope Spot, Swartkops Estuary, and 90 kg in Aliwal.
Sustainable Seas Trust will use the information collected to expand the dataset on African Waste that it is building. We believe the Global Alert platform will help the Sustainable Seas Trust to bring greater awareness and improvements in our coastal management of Hope Spots and
protected areas vis-a-vis trash and pollution minimization in those areas.“
To join the Global Alert Platform, simply sign up at www.globalalert.org or download the mobile
application to use on iPhones or Androids.
Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association