Best of 2022 – Ocean Plastics at USAID
In 2022, countries around the world came together in a momentous decision to develop a new global plastics treaty to end plastic pollution. In building the capacity of city governments for environmentally sound management of waste and an inclusive circular economy, USAID is enabling countries to set ambitious goals for the new treaty. From new initiatives to new resources, here are highlights of USAID’s 2022 ocean plastics work:
- Launched the Save Our Seas Initiative with strong bi-partisan Congressional support – In June, USAID Administrator Samantha Power announced the launch of USAID’s new flagship initiative to combat ocean plastic pollution globally—the Save Our Seas Initiative. The initiative includes $62.5 million in initial funding and will launch 14 new country and regional programs that represent 40 percent of total global mismanaged plastic waste. Administrator Power was joined at the launch event by Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) in-person and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) virtually, co-sponsors of the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act of 2020, the bipartisan legislation that inspired this initiative. You can watch the event here. In July, under the Save Our Seas Initiative, USAID announced a new blended finance partnership to expand collection and recycling infrastructure in Indonesia to generate high-quality, traceable recycled plastic.
- Renewed global engagement to protect the ocean – At Our Ocean Conference 2022 in Palau, USAID announced 24 initiatives to protect oceans including an expansion of its work to reduce plastic pollution to Pacific Island countries. Senator Whitehouse provided closing remarks to USAID’s event, “Ending Plastic Pollution in Island Nations,” jointly hosted with the Secretariat for the Pacific Regional Environment Program. In his opening remarks, the Ambassador from Norway announced Norway’s financial contributions to USAID’s Clean Cities Blue Ocean program: 30,000,000 NOK (about $3.36 million USD). Together with Circulate Capital, OECD, and Norwegian and Indonesian government partners, USAID hosted a UN Ocean Conference side event in June that examined the OECD global plastics outlook and the role of women in the waste and recycling sector. In November, as global leaders convened in Uruguay to develop the first-ever legally binding international treaty on plastic pollution, USAID and partners convened a session to spotlight the role of the informal waste sector to ensure a fair, just, and inclusive design of the new plastic treaty.
- Leveraged private sector engagement to promote a circular economy – USAID facilitated more than fifty partnerships around the world and mobilized over $5.6 million to advance circular economies. In April, USAID’s Clean Cities, Blue Ocean program signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines Inc. and WWF-Philippines to empower women in the waste sector. In July, the partnership awarded its first business expansion grant to help a woman waste collector start her own door-to-door waste collection business. Also in the Philippines, USAID announced a new partnership with Nestle Philippines to increase communities’ access to solid waste management education and develop resilience to climate change.
- Strengthened local partners capacity to manage waste and prevent plastic pollution. USAID’s Clean Cities, Blue Ocean program awarded 18 new grants worth over $5.28 million to locally led organizations across Asia and Latin America. Through the grants, technical assistance, and training over 2,220 individuals developed increased capacity in the 3Rs and solid waste management, with training focused on local governance, social and behavior change and related research and implementation methods, gender, and solid waste management—including best practices for managing material recovery facilities and sanitary landfills.
- Developed new resources, knowledge sharing, and training on preventing ocean plastic pollution. USAID published two dozen new resources, including the USAID building blocks for a circular economy and case study examples, the Solid Waste Capacity Index for Local Governments Assessment Tool, and more. In May, we convened a Thought Leaders Roundtable on plastics policy, bringing together 41 diverse voices from leading private sector companies, development agencies, national and local governments, academia, and NGOs to discuss implementation challenges and opportunities for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in developing countries. The Roundtable was the first in a series of conversations with the goal of long-term collaboration to enable and promote effective implementation of various plastics policies (see brief). USAID’s Clean Cities, Blue Ocean program launched a virtual event and training hub providing live and on-demand training and videos spotlighting solutions to ocean plastic pollution — with more than 900 participants from 61 countries to date.
In 2023, USAID will expand its work in new geographies and with new partners. Don’t miss out on any of it, sign up for USAID’s Ocean Plastics newsletter here.