Source-to-sea draws a crowd during UN Ocean Conference Prep Meeting

News Mar 04, 2020

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Special side event to the UN Ocean Conference Preparatory Meetings in New York on 4 February 2020 saw participants demand greater attention from the ocean community to source-to-sea issues and the circular economy.  

With great passion and enthusiasm H.E. Peter Thomson called on the ocean community to give more attention to source-to-sea linkages, drawing on the natural flows from mountain to sea the residents of his home nation, Fiji, rely on every day. The UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Oceans went on with powerful words to demand more solutions from the private sector.

Private sector engagement was a theme that kept coming up during the special lunch event hosted by Kingdom of the Netherlands in partnership with the Action Platform for Source-to-Sea Management, UNDP, Delta Alliance, SIWI and Deltares. And it is not surprising with 8 million tons of plastic leaking into our oceans every year, and nearly all of it is post-consumer waste.

Andy Hudson, Head of the Water & Ocean Governance Programme of UNDP, provided the example of container deposit laws as a means to stop the flow of plastics through a viable and functioning circular economy. The practice of needing to pay a small deposit for a bottle of soda or other goods has resulted in return rates of up to 98% in some cities.

Leah Karrer of the Global Environment Facility emphasized the needs for stronger regulations, standards and a change in consumer preferences to drive change with mass producers such as Coca-Cola, who currently have little incentive to change how they are operating.

However, as one participant mentioned, these initiatives rely on a basis of solid infrastructure and the need for coordinated governance systems, elements often lacking in many of the world’s developing economies. The source-to-sea framework for management seeks to provide an approach that helps strengthen these governance systems and build a foundation for integrated infrastructure by connecting people, organizations, communities and companies from source to sea through a shared set of priorities.

The importance of bringing water and ocean communities closer together in the quest to achieve SDG 14 was emphasized by the Portuguese representatives at the meeting, who informed of their plans to host a dedicated high level symposium on water and ocean in connection to the Ocean Conference in June.This event, which was organized by the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Netherlands jointly with the S2S Platform, UNDP, Delta Alliance and Deltares, marked only the beginning of the S2S Platform’s engagement with the oceans community this year. In June, the S2S Platform will participate in the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, followed by continued engagement at this year’s World Water Week, where we once again hope to bring more ocean actors to the freshwater community.