The Circulate Initiative, Ocean Conservancy, and Global Resilient Cities Network has announced the first cohort of partner cities that will take part in the Urban Ocean program. The program empowers cities in South and Southeast Asia and Latin America to develop circular economies, reduce plastic waste and build cleaner, healthier and more resilient communities for the long term, particularly as they weather the impacts of the current COVID-19 crisis.
Scientists estimate eight million metric tons of plastic enters the ocean each year due to mismanaged waste – waste that is either never collected or not adequately contained. That’s the equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic entering the ocean every minute. While plastic pollution costs an estimated US$2.5 trillion to the global economy annually, the issue has serious impacts on human health and safety as well as the environment.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has both worsened existing vulnerabilities within our waste management systems and exposed new ones.
Over the next 15 months, Urban Ocean will work closely with city leaders in Can Tho (Vietnam), Melaka (Malaysia), Semarang (Indonesia), Pune (India) and Panama City (Panama), known as “learning cities”, as well as other cities from the Global Resilient Cities Network community, known as “mentor cities”, to link them to opportunities that improve waste management and recycling systems; reduce the amount of plastic flowing into the ocean; promote circular economies; support inclusive and equitable economic development; and build resilience for the long term.
Susan Ruffo, Executive Director at The Circulate Initiative, said, “Waste management is a critical and complex challenge for all cities around the world. We need to work with committed city leaders and innovative partners to find implementable and scalable on-the-ground solutions to fight ocean plastic and advance the circular economy. We believe that working with Ocean Conservancy and Global Resilient Cities Network, in partnership with these leading cities, we will be able to develop and deliver solutions where action is needed most, at the local level.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare just how critical waste management systems are to public health and the environment,” said Chever Voltmer, plastics initiative director at Ocean Conservancy.
“This is especially true in urban areas where population density and waste generation are greatest. Through Urban Ocean, we will help cities weather this storm and better prepare for future ones, while reducing plastic pollution in our ocean.”
 EllenMacArthur & Jenna Jambeck study, 2015
 Marine Pollution Bulletin, 2019
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