Commission Announces €550m To Tackle Ocean Challenges

The European Commission has announced over €550m of EU-funded initiatives to tackle global oceans challenges, such as marine pollution.

The commitments were announced at the Our Ocean Conference 2017 in Malta.

The resources will be invested to strengthen the fight against marine pollution and enlarge protected areas, reinforce security of the oceans, foster blue economy initiatives and sustainable fisheries and intensify the EU efforts against climate change, in line with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals under Agenda 2030.

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans – “The European Commission has demonstrated with concrete pledges its strong commitment to the sustainability, security and prosperity of our oceans. If they are at risk, so are we, for the oceans nourish our planet and our people, and they connect us to our partners around the world.”

Participants also announced the creation of new Marine Protected Areas spanning more than 2.5m km², or more than half the size of the entire European Union.

10m tonnes of litter ends up in the sea, the Commission said, restating that by 2050, our oceans could contain more plastic than fish.

Among the many initiatives put forward at the EU-hosted conference in this area were:

  • Major consumer-goods companies such as Unilever, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Marks & Spencer, MARS, Werner & Mertz and Carrefour all announced significant reductions in plastic use over the coming few years.
  • Vienna-based chemicals and fertilizers group, Borealis, announced a €15m investment in mechanical recycling of polyolefins, a substance found not least in packaging.
  • The Ellen MacArthur Foundation handed out the prestigious Circular Design Award to inspire innovation under its €8.5m New Plastic Economy initiative.
  • Sky announced €30m over 5 years to create an Ocean Rescue Innovation Fund to develop ideas and technology to stop plastics entering the ocean.
  • The European Commission announced that it will phase out by end 2017 all single-use plastic cups in water fountains and vending machines in its buildings in Brussels.

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “The European Commission has demonstrated with concrete pledges its strong commitment to the sustainability, security and prosperity of our oceans. If they are at risk, so are we, for the oceans nourish our planet and our people, and they connect us to our partners around the world.”

The Our Ocean 2017 Conference addressed the themes of marine protected areas, sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and climate change. This year, the European Commission introduced the themes of blue economy and maritime security. Our Ocean engaged participants from around the globe to make significant commitments.

Ocean Rescue Innovation Fund

Sky committed to transform its business operations by eliminating all single-use plastics from its operations, products and supply chain by 2020.

This is a new commitment under its Sky Ocean Rescue campaign, which launched in January this year to raise awareness and help address the dire problem of single-use plastics in the ocean.

From now, all new Sky products will have packaging that is free of single-use plastic. By the end of 2017 all new products will be made without any single-use plastic.

In addition, Sky will help its business partners and supply chain transform their operations.

Sky will also help solve the wider problem of plastic use, it says, by identifying businesses and start-ups that are developing technology to eradicate single-use plastics from supply chains and stop plastic from ending up in the ocean.

Sky – “The statistics are shocking – by 2050 the amount of plastic in the ocean will weigh more than all the fish. At Sky, we care about the environment and believe we have a responsibility to act on issues that matter to our customers.”

Anchored by a commitment of £25m over five years, Sky will launch an Ocean Rescue Innovation Fund to invest in these new ideas.

Further details on the proposed fund will be announced in due course.

Sky will also partner with WWF to safeguard Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) around the coastlines of its major European territories – the UK and Ireland, Germany and Italy. Marine Protected Areas are defined as areas of ocean and coastline that are an essential tool in the recovery and protection of our ocean and the vital services it provides.

Sky and WWF will encourage members of the public to join them in adopting, protecting and enhancing these coastal areas through a campaign to be launched later this year.

Sky’s Group CEO, Jeremy Darroch, will discuss these three new commitments at the EU Our Ocean Conference in Malta later today. Ahead of the conference, Darroch said: “We need to tackle one of the biggest man-made environmental disasters facing our planet – plastics in the ocean.

“The statistics are shocking – by 2050 the amount of plastic in the ocean will weigh more than all the fish. At Sky, we care about the environment and believe we have a responsibility to act on issues that matter to our customers.

“Ten years ago, we were the first media company to become carbon neutral and looking to the next 10 years, we want to use our voice and our reach to have a positive effect on ocean health.

“We’ve been raising awareness through Sky Ocean Rescue but we want to go further, so today we are committing to eradicate single-use plastics from our own business operations by 2020, establish a new innovation fund to help solve the wider problem of plastic use, and partner with WWF to safeguard Marine Protected Areas. We want our actions to be ocean positive.”


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