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Race to defeat marine plastics

UN Environment is to fly its flag at the 2017 edition of the world’s premier ocean racing competition, with the aim of raising awareness on marine litter and garnering pledges to prevent it at source.


The Volvo Ocean Race sets sail from Alicante, Spain on 22 October and see teams battle the elements to travel an epic 46,000 nautical miles around the globe.


During stops made by the boats on route, ‘Ocean Summits’ will be held gathering decision-makers, scientists, educational bodies, the private sector and local community for a dialogue on the problem of marine litter and how it can be fought. Some 2.4 million people visited equivalent villages set up as part of the race during its last edition.

“We all know we are on the wrong track, polluting our oceans to an extent no-one thought possible... it’s obvious we need to change and this is a partnership made in heaven,” said UN Environment Head Erik Solheim when signing a Memorandum of Understanding to be a sustainability partner with Volvo Ocean Race Chief Executive Officer Mark Turner in Geneva on 27 April. Country pledges will be brought to the Environment Assembly in December to spur further actions and showcase solutions. UN Environment will tap into story telling during the race and add the importance of restoring our Ocean for future generations.

There could be more plastic in the oceans than fish by 2050 in terms of weight. UN Environment earlier this year therefore launched a ‘Clean Seas’ campaign to urge countries, consumers and corporations to halt marine plastic at source, with ten countries already having joined the effort. Indonesia, for example, has pledged to reduce the marine litter it produces by 70 percent by 2025.

Italy on board
Italy is meanwhile the latest country to join the five-year Clean Seas campaign. During a G7 workshop on marine litter held in Rome on 20-21 April, the Italian Minister of Environment Gian Luca Galletti shared his country’s decision by signing a letter to Mr Solheim. The move “strengthens Italy’s commitment towards the fight against this threat and the promotion of the awareness and knowledge of this phenomenon,” said Mr Galletti.


The Mediterranean area is considered as one of the most affected by marine litter in the world, with its floating plastic concentrations comparable to those reported for the five oceanic garbage patches.


For more information on the Volvo Oceans Race contact or and for more on the G7 workshop click here or contact
















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