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R4WO Invited To The United Nations To Discuss Marine Plastic Pollution

The R4WO had a lot on its plate in the Big Apple in order to keep on passing the message about the urgency to act for our oceans.

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Open forum at the UN about Marine Litter. © Peter Charaf / Race for Water 2015
Trash in the Bermudas. © Peter Charaf / Race for Water 2015

Litter is found in all the world’s oceans and seas and concerns are growing about impacts of marine litter on ecosystem health, biodiversity and human health. For this reason, it is gaining increased attention from international organizations, as Franklin Servan-Schreiber, strategic advisor of the Race for Water foundation, stated:

It has only been a short decade since captain Charles Moore made us aware of the plastic pollution devastation in the North Pacific, followed by some ever more upsetting discoveries made by a number of environmental organizations and universities. This awareness led to the development in 2011 of the Honolulu Strategy to combat marine litter under the auspices of NOAA and UNEP, followed by the creation in 2012 of the Global Partnership on Marine Debris.”

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© Peter Charaf / Race for Water 2015

As a proof of this growing interest, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) organized two events about marine litter in honor of the R4WO. First, Marco Simeoni, president of the Race for Water Foundation and leader of the Race for Water Odyssey expedition, had the opportunity to take part in a high-level luncheon with country representatives, including discussions. As part of this meeting, he could exchange with mission representatives and with experts in marine litter. Then, the R4WO was  the guest of a plenary session on the “Global Partnership on Marine Litter” (GPML), organized by UNEP at the United Nations (UN) headquarters—undoubtedly the defining moment of the New York stopover. Launched at the Rio+20 Conference in 2012, the GPML aims to coordinate and support private and public action in the fight against marine pollution. Patricia Beneke, Director of the Regional Office for North America, UNEP, Nancy Wallace, member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Chair of the GPML; and H.E. May-Elin Stener, Deputy Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations, notably intervened at this forum. In front of a fully attentive room, Marco Simeoni and Franklin Servan-Schreiber sent out the message of hope but also of urgency embodied by the Race for Water Odyssey:

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Open forum at the UN © Peter Charaf / Race for Water 2015

“The Honolulu strategy document states that “one of the significant barriers to addressing marine debris is the absence of adequate scientific research, assessment, and monitoring. Reliable data and information on the amounts, distribution, and impacts of marine debris is essential to help prioritize, develop, and implement effective strategies to address the problem. […] Although monitoring of marine debris is currently carried out within a number of countries around the world, the protocols used tend to be very different, preventing comparisons and harmonization of data across regions or timescales” […] The Race for Water Foundation proposes to carry out a comprehensive and standardized study of plastic pollution in our oceans to provide a much needed snapshot of the situation.  […]”

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© Peter Charaf / Race for Water 2015

[…] The Race for Water Foundation proposes to carry out a comprehensive and standardized study of plastic pollution in our oceans to provide a much needed snapshot of the situation. Using a state of the art racing trimaran which allows faster navigation than any motorized ship the crew will crisscross our oceans from North to South, covering a record breaking 40,000 nautical miles in 300 days. […]”

A full agenda for the R4WO team in New York! As for the ambassador ship, she was not outdone, as she went out several times on the Hudson, with all sails set, in order to keep proclaiming the message of the foundation loud and clear.
Click here to relive the open forum at the United Nations!

Follow the Race for Water Odyssey live here!