17 April 2018
Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance Supports SDG 14 Achievement
Photo by IISD/Francis Dejon
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UK Prime Minister Theresa May has announced £61.4 million to support the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance, which aims to end the use of single-use plastic and promote progress towards SDG 14.

A for-profit social enterprise, ‘The Plastic Bag,’ uses blockchain technology to address plastic waste in developing countries.

16 April 2018: The Government of the UK has announced the establishment of the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance to eliminate single use plastic and address marine plastic pollution. Meanwhile, the Plastic Bank is using blockchain technology to incentivize the collection and recycling of plastic waste.

The Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance represents an agreement among the UK, Ghana, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Vanuatu to jointly tackle marine plastic. The countries have pledged to ban microbeads in personal care products and rinse-off cosmetics and to cut plastic bag use by 2021. The Alliance aims to drive action on SDG 14 (life below water) and to encourage other Commonwealth countries to sign up to and implement international agreements to protect the ocean, including the UN Clean Seas campaign, the Global Ghost Gear Initiative and the London Protocol.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced £61.4 million to support the Alliance.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced £61.4 million to support the Alliance. This funding includes £25 million to support research on marine plastic from a scientific, economic and social perspective; £25 million to address plastic and other environmental pollution generated by manufacturing in developing countries and prevent this waste from entering the ocean; and £16.4 million to improve waste management at a national and city level, and prevent plastics from entering the water. Participating developing countries are also eligible to bid for support to improve their waste management systems and implement other initiatives to address plastic waste. In addition, the UK Department for International Development will match public donations to the Alliance.

The UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove said, through the Alliance, the UK aims “to harness the full power of the Commonwealth in pushing for global change and safeguarding our marine environment for future generations.

The Alliance will work with business and NGOs, including the World Economic Forum, Sky, the Coca-Cola Company, Fauna and Flora International and WWF. Fauna and Flora International CEO Mark Rose said, “urgent and collective action is now needed to reduce the levels of plastic reaching our oceans” and expressed his organization’s commitment to help the Alliance achieve its aims.

Also on plastic pollution, the Plastic Bank aims to incentivize people in Brazil, Haiti and the Philippines to bring plastic waste to recycling collection areas. The Bank rewards plastic collectors with digital tokens that can be accessed by smartphone and exchanged for goods such as food, water or phone minutes. The Plastic Bank works with Cognition Foundry and IBM to implement this exchange using blockchain technology, which helps to ensure a cashless method that can support financial inclusion and minimize individuals’ risk of robbery. According to its co-founder, Shaun Frankson, the Plastic Bank provides an opportunity for “anyone with a smartphone and scale to create their own local recycling business and ecosystem.” The Bank plans to expand into Indonesia, Ethiopia, India and South Africa within the next year.

As discussed in the SDG Knowledge Weekly, the international community is rapidly exploring the use of blockchain technology to address sustainable development challenges. [UK Government Press Release] [Sustainable Brands Story on The Plastic Bank] [SDG Knowledge Hub Weekly: Blockchain in Practice]

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