The Commonwealth Secretariat has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with eXXpedition, a non-profit organisation that runs all-women sailing expeditions to research the causes of, and solutions to, marine plastic pollution.
The collaboration will give Commonwealth countries geographic and ecosystem health information related to marine debris and its wider environmental impact, to help them protect oceans and manage plastic pollution.
Combining this research with actions taken by the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance (CCOA) Action Group and other Commonwealth platforms will assist in driving science-based policy solutions for healthy oceans across the Commonwealth.
Founded in 2014, eXXpedition runs expeditions all over the world, conducting scientific research and capacity building activities with communities, governments and partners.
Due to COVID-19, this year’s voyage is taking place virtually. Through online workshops the all-female multidisciplinary crew will share their own experiences, support scientific research and collaborate with community groups – providing a unique platform to engage women and youth.
Emily Penn, Founder, eXXpedition says: “It is fantastic to be working with the Commonwealth Secretariat on our Virtual Voyages which have been created in response to COVID19 – at eXXpedition we have always focused on what we can do, rather than what we can’t! We are excited to work together to accelerate the journey towards a healthy ocean using our SHiFT Platform, which scales up support for individuals and businesses to tackle plastic pollution around the world and which we will use as part of this new partnership.”
The partnership will contribute to work of the Commonwealth Blue Charter, particularly the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance, a Blue Charter Action Group addressing marine plastic pollution which is co-championed by the UK and Vanuatu.
Other Blue Charter Action Groups such as Ocean and Climate Change, Sustainable Coastal Fisheries and Coral Reef Protection and Restoration will also provide access to common data sets, shared practices, co-learning and marine scientific capacity building, in order to support policy development.
Paulo Kautoke, Senior Director, Trade, Oceans and Natural Resources Directorate, Commonwealth Secretariat, says: “We are proud to join this partnership with eXXpedition, which will greatly assist the Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Groups in developing broader capacity building and data collection capabilities across the Commonwealth. It will contribute to empowering girls and women, as well as create opportunities for innovative solutions to marine plastics and practical action for healthy oceans throughout the Commonwealth.”
Plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats to our oceans and marine ecosystems. More than 12 million tonnes of plastic waste pollute our sea each year, choking wildlife above and below the waterline. Around one million sea birds and an unknown number of sea turtles die each year from plastic debris. The effects of plastics carrying toxicity through the marine food chain is also still being researched, including the implications for human health.