In response to the ever-growing epidemic of ocean pollution, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently launched the Action Plan for Healthy Oceans and Sustainable Blue Economies for the Asia and Pacific region.
Asia and the Pacific is at the epicenter of a major crisis in marine plastic pollution, threatening the productivity of the region’s marine economies, which are crucial to poverty reduction. For instance, among the 10 rivers transporting 88% to 95% of plastics into the sea worldwide, 8 are in the region.
In response to the ever-growing epidemic of ocean pollution, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently launched the Action Plan for Healthy Oceans and Sustainable Blue Economies for the Asia and Pacific region at the 52nd Annual Meeting of ADB’s Board of Governors in Fiji. The Action Plan aims to expand financing and technical assistance for ocean health and marine economy projects to the tune of $5 billion in the next 5 years, including cofinancing from partners.
Ocean ecosystems have been pushed to the brink of collapse by the threats of climate change, pollution, and illegal and unregulated fishing, among others. Unless immediate action is taken, about 90% of Asia and the Pacific’s coral reefs will be dead by 2050, and all commercially exploitable fish stocks will disappear by then. This will significantly threaten food security, the global economy, and livelihoods, especially among millions of poor and vulnerable communities in the region.
To tackle this problem the action plan will focus on four areas: creating inclusive livelihoods and business opportunities in sustainable tourism and fisheries; protecting and restoring coastal and marine ecosystems and key rivers; reducing land-based sources of marine pollution, including plastics, wastewater, and agricultural runoff; and improving sustainability in port and coastal infrastructure development.
“The prosperity of our region depends on healthy oceans and sustainable development,” said ADB President Takehiko Nakao. “We must work toward a more resilient future, where humanity and oceans thrive together.”
As a part of the action plan, ADB will launch the Oceans Financing Initiative to create opportunities for the private sector to invest in bankable projects that will help improve ocean health. The initiative will provide technical assistance grants and funding from ADB and other donors to reduce the technical and financial risks of projects. This will be done through instruments such as credit risk guarantees and capital market “blue bonds”.
The Oceans Financing Initiative will be piloted in Southeast Asia in collaboration with the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund and the Republic of Korea. The World Wide Fund for Nature, a longtime partner of ADB, will support the design and implementation of the financing initiative.
Last Month, the 100 Plastic Rivers project, a global project analysing the effect of micro-plastics in rivers and measuring how BPA and nanoparticles are released from different sample types started global operations. Set up in 2018 to address a lack of knowledge on the transport, fate and ecotoxicity of micro-plastics in freshwater systems. The project currently involves scientists in over 60 locations worldwide who are sampling water and sediment in rivers.
Led by Birmingham University, a key part of the project is to establish standard methods for sampling and analysing micro-plastics in water and sediment samples. Data that might come very handy for the ADB action plan.