The world moved one step closer to cleaner oceans today with a commitment by several Commonwealth nations to work together on preventing marine plastic pollution.

In an announcement this morning, UK Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Ghana have joined the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance. This initiative, led by the UK and Vanuatu, brings together member states to fight against plastic pollution.

The group has pledged to ban microbeads in rinse-off cosmetics and personal care products and cut plastic bag use by 2021, and will work with NGOs – including Fauna & Flora International – and businesses from across the Commonwealth to push for global change and protect the environment for future generations.

To drive this forward, the UK Prime Minister has also announced a £61.4 million package of funding to boost global research and help countries across the Commonwealth stop plastic waste from entering the oceans in the first place.

UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “When it comes to our seas and oceans, the challenge is global so the answer must be too. Through this ambitious alliance we will build on the UK’s world-leading microbeads ban and 5p plastic bag charge to harness the full power of the Commonwealth in pushing for global change and safeguarding our marine environment for future generations.”

A global problem needs a global response

Responding to the news, Fauna & Flora International’s Chief Executive Mark Rose said:

“We have been encouraged by the actions taken by individual countries to cut down on plastic microbeads, carrier bags, bottles and other plastic items littering our seas, but sadly this is not enough. If we are truly to stop the scourge of plastic pollution, we now need collective action on a global scale.

“We applaud the leadership shown today by these Commonwealth nations, and hope this will pave the way for a new, truly international movement to put an end to plastic pollution once and for all.”

Fauna & Flora International operates in more than 20 Commonwealth countries around the world, and is already working with a number of national governments and partners to help them identify priorities and develop action plans to tackle ocean plastic pollution.

“With nearly a decade of experience in tackling marine plastic pollution and a number of major successes to our name already, we are looking forward to supporting our partners across the Commonwealth to deliver on their ambitious plans,” said Joanna Elliott, Senior Director of Conservation Partnerships at Fauna & Flora International.

Read the official announcement by the UK government.