By Carrie Thompson, Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and Environment (E3)
The amount of plastic pollution flowing into the ocean is increasing at an alarming rate, creating an urgent challenge for the world’s environment and economy. If we continue on our current trajectory, by 2050 — pound for pound — we may have more plastic in the ocean than fish.
While the challenge of ocean plastics is global, most of the solutions need to be local. The best way to address the flow of plastic into the ocean is to stop it at the source.
Most ocean plastic pollution emanates from developing countries — and, more specifically, from rapidly urbanizing coastal cities in the developing world — where waste management systems, infrastructure and governance are struggling to keep pace with growing populations and increasing amounts of trash.
From Washington D.C. to Jakarta and almost everywhere in between, waste management is a local issue.
Solving the problem of ocean plastics requires strengthening those local systems. That means coordination and collaboration among local and national governments; grassroots community organizations, civil society and schools; businesses up and down the recycling value chain; and development organizations, researchers and international NGOs.
This local systems approach is at the core of USAID’s work on this issue. Through the Municipal Waste Recycling Program, USAID is supporting 20 different locally-led marine debris projects in cities throughout Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam — four countries that are among the world’s largest contributors to ocean plastics pollution. Click here to read the full story.