27 Sep 2017 Press release Oceans & seas

Brazilian Government signs up to UN Clean Seas campaign

22 September 2017, New York – Brazil has officially announced its support to the UN Clean Seas campaign in a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York with Minister of Environment, Sarney Filho, and head of UN Environment, Erik Solheim.

As the world’s ninth largest economy and a leader in environmental protection, Brazil’s declaration of support is a significant boost to the UN’s global campaign, which now boasts 30 member states and aims to “turn the tide on plastic” by inspiring action from governments, businesses and individuals.

“Brazil’s support for this campaign is crucial. It underscores the size of the problem and the scale of the response that we need to see,” said Solheim. "We need more of the same political leadership – the kind that sends a very clear message: we cannot afford to continue to turn our oceans into a sea of waste.”

The announcement strengthens the Brazilian government’s commitment to developing a National Plan to Combat Marine Litter and supporting the creation of the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary and Marine Protected Areas.

“The ecological services provided by the oceans are essential for all people and Brazil has been taking a number of measures to ensure the conservation of marine and coastal ecosystems,” said Minister Filho.

Plastic has long been identified as a major cause of environmental damage and health problems. It pollutes the environment; kills birds, fish and other animals that mistake plastic for food; damages tourist destinations; harms marine fisheries and provides a breeding ground for Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya mosquitoes.

Plastic use, however, continues to grow. In 2016, 5.8 million tons of plastic products were produced in Brazil. Globally, up to 2015, mankind had produced 8.3 billion tons of plastic. Of this, 6.3 billion tons have already been discarded and some 8 million tons are dumped into our oceans every year.

Much of this waste is made up of disposable plastic, including cups, bags, straws, bottles and microplastics (tiny particles of plastic) from cosmetic products.

The Clean Seas campaign asks the support of governments through the creation of effective national laws and encouragement for businesses and citizens to develop new and more sustainable patterns of production and consumption. A recent example comes from Chile, which this week announced a law banning plastic bags in coastal cities.

By signing up to Clean Seas, Brazil joins Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Panama, Peru, Saint Lucia and Uruguay to become the 10th country in Latin America and the Caribbean to join the campaign.

Further afield, Indonesia has committed to slash marine litter by 70%, Canada has added microbeads to its list of toxic substances, and New Zealand, the UK and the US have announced bans on microbeads.

About UN Environment

UN Environment is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, the civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world.

About Clean Seas

Launched at the Economist World Ocean Summit in Bali, UN Environment’s #CleanSeas campaign is urging governments to pass plastic reduction policies; targeting industry to minimize plastic packaging and redesign products; and calling on consumers to change their throwaway habits before irreversible damage is done to our seas.