Northwest Pacific Regional Seas Programme to support ‘Clean Beach City Alliance’ against marine litter

March 14, 2019
Press Release

Qingdao City in Shandong province of the People’s Republic of China, and Taean County in South Chungcheong Do province of the Republic of Korea are popular coastal resorts about 600 km apart, on opposite ends of the Yellow Sea, and known for their clean beaches and clear seas. 
Shandong and South Chungcheong Do provinces are partners in an environmental initiative that brings together local authorities, businesses and civil society to keep their beaches free of marine litter—a threat to the seas and coasts of East Asia.

Acknowledging the primary role of local governments in protecting the coastal and marine environment, a meeting of a United Nations project to protect the Yellow Sea marine ecosystem held in Qingdao in March 2019 has now agreed to set up a ‘Clean Beach City Alliance’ linking coastal cities in China, Japan and the Republic of Korea with support from the UN Environment Northwest Pacific Action Plan.The 3rd Meetings of the Management, Science and Technical Panel and Interim Commission Council of the United Nations Development Programme / Global Environment Facility Yellow Sea Large Marine Ecosystem project has sought the cooperation of the Northwest Pacific Action Plan, which is promoting regional cooperation against marine litter in Northwest Pacific seas since 2008.

“Local governments are and should be the primary players in reducing marine litter through legislation and establishment of comprehensive policy framework. These enabling conditions will provide a conducive platform to engage business, academia, non-governmental organizations, youth and other stakeholders to take joint actions within their respective areasof expertise,” says a background paper on the ‘Clean Beach City Alliance’ presented at the meeting.

The Yellow Sea Large Marine Ecosystem meeting agreed to identify one city in Shandong, Taean County as well as a city in Japan to join the Alliance. Participating cities will host annual forums on the prevention and control of marine debris pollution and work together to tackle marine litter by involving local governments, business, youth and non-governmental organizations. 
Northwest Pacific Action Plan Programme Officer Ning Liu told the Qingdao meeting that the Alliance would benefit from marine litter guidelines for the region developed by the UN Environment Regional Seas Programme and adopted by the Yellow Sea Large Marine Ecosystem project.

The Northwest Pacific Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter promotes cooperation among China, Japan, Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation to prevent, reduce and remove marine litter from Northwest Pacific coastal areas and waters.
The Yellow Sea Large Marine Ecosystem is one of 66 large marine ecosystems in the world. The project was launched in 2005 to address environmental threats to the Yellow Sea, which covers 400,000 km2 between China and the Korean peninsula. 
An estimated 4.8–12.7 million tonnes of plastic waste enter the world’s oceans annually. The seas surrounding East Asia are one of the global hotspots of marine litter pollution and are assessed to have 27 times more microplastics (plastic particles less than 5 mm) per square kilometre than other world seas.