Today, USAID Administrator Samantha Power announced the launch of USAID’s new flagship initiative to combat ocean plastic pollution globally—the Save Our Seas Initiative. The initiative will include $62.5 million in initial funding and will launch 14 new country and regional programs in key countries and regions that represent 40 percent of total global mismanaged plastic waste.
Administrator Power was joined at the launch event by Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) in-person and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) virtually, co-sponsors of the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act of 2020, the bipartisan legislation that inspired this initiative.
Ocean plastic pollution is a global crisis that requires urgent action. Each year, 11 million metric tons of plastic pollution enter our oceans, equivalent to more than one garbage truck every minute. This rate is expected to double by the end of this decade and triple by 2040—threatening the world’s delicate marine ecosystems, major industries such as fishing and tourism, food security, and ultimately human health. Once plastic is in the ocean, it is very difficult and expensive to remove. Therefore, USAID focuses on preventing plastic from getting into the natural environment in the first place.
USAID is combating ocean plastic pollution by creating inclusive circular economies together with local and national governments, communities, and the private sector. The Save Our Seas Initiative builds on successes and lessons from USAID’s six years of experience in improving solid waste management systems and strengthening policies and practices for the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), while scaling these approaches within key countries and to additional geographies for greater impact.