Building on His Royal Highness’s long held concern about the volume of plastic waste that is entering the marine environment, The Prince of Wales and his International Sustainability Unity (ISU) continued its efforts to build a consensus among the academic, private and NGO communities at a global, national and local scale. As part of this, in May 2017 the ISU, with The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, launched the $2 million New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize. The Prize which is funded by Wendy Schmidt as Lead Philanthropic Partner of the New Plastics Economy Initiative, called for innovators, designers, scientists and entrepreneurs to help create packaging that keeps plastics out of the ocean. In addition, in July 2017 the ISU helped to launch the African Marine Waste Network to help coordinate and draw attention to solutions in Africa for keeping plastic waste out of the ocean. And, at a landmark event, in January 2018 the ISU hosted a high level meeting “Keeping Plastics and their value in the Economy and out of the Ocean” which included among others the CEOs and senior representatives from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, PepsiCo UK, and Sky Ocean Ventures Fund. This meeting cemented the commitment of the participants to work together to develop a circular economy and drastically to reduce the use of plastics.
“I am beginning to find some encouragement from the fact that a more integrated and joined-up approach is starting to unfold, with real leadership being shown by many individuals who are placing their intellectual, organizational, political and, indeed, financial capital into fostering integrated and collaborative efforts.”
HRH The Prince of Wales speaking at the ISU Meeting
Our Oceans Conference
The Our Ocean Conferences were established by Secretary John Kerry in 2014 and have become the pivotal annual meeting for those leaders involved in conserving the Ocean and its resources. On 5th and 6th October 2017, the European Union hosted the 4th edition of the Our Ocean conference in Malta. His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales gave the key note address and, with His Royal Highness Prince Albert of Monaco, chaired two meetings on the Blue Economy Development Framework and the launch of the Coral Reef Declaration, which has now been signed by countries that have responsibility for over half the world’s coral reefs. The outcome of the conference was unprecedented and included €7.2 billion in financial pledges and 2.5 million km2 of additional Marine Protected Areas.
The ISU worked with WWF, the EU Commission and the European Investment Bank to produce a set of Blue Economy Finance Principles to guide the investment and finance community. The Principles were announced at the conference and unveiled at The Economist World Ocean Summit in March 2018. Providing a framework for securing the long-term health of our ocean, the principles have already received endorsement in the final report of the EU High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance published in January 2018, in which the Group recommended the adoption and implementation of the Principles by the finance community.
Coral Reef Conference
In addition to the work on launching the Coral Reef Declaration, and in recognition that 2018 is the International Year of the Reef, as designated by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), the ISU convened major stakeholders from the private, public, NGO, media and academic sectors from around world to help launch The Year of the Reef and to build consensus on the urgency of scaling up resilience and recovery of the world’s coral reefs. This meeting, at which His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales gave the key note speech and which was attended by His Royal Highness Prince Harry attracted significant media coverage and successfully highlighted the plight of the world’s reefs.
In addition, the ISU has commissioned work on highlighting the economic drivers behind coral reef degradation and the investments required to ensure the long-term health of these vital marine habitats. This work will be used as the template to catalyse new impetus for finding long-term solutions in which the private sector plays a central role.
“The Ocean has an astonishing ability to heal itself if given the chance. So Ladies and Gentlemen, we simply have to give it that chance, perhaps its last, for we must not only conserve what remains of these unique and vitally important ecosystems, but we must also allow Nature to restore what has already been lost.”
The Prince of wales speaking at the conference
During the year, the ISU worked in collaboration with Marks and Spencer and The Soil Association to convene leading companies and various ‘standards’ organisations to discuss how to reduce the negative environmental and social impacts that are all too often associated with cotton production. There have been substantial gains made over the past few years in scaling the production of more sustainable forms of cotton, with production higher than ever before. However, companies are still only actively sourcing less than a fifth of more sustainable material. To correct this disparity and encourage more companies to procure more sustainable cotton, in May 2017 the ISU hosted alongside M&S and The Soil Association a high-level meeting, attended by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, to launch the Sustainable Cotton Communiqué, which commits companies to using 100% sustainable cotton by 2025. Almost 40 companies have now signed up to the commitment, and the new Secretariat of the initiative, Textile Exchange, hopes to bring this number to over 100 over by 2020.
In 2017, The Prince launched the @NewPlasticsEcon Innovation Prize, which aims to help keep plastics out of our oceans.
Learn more about plastic use, recycling and the steps being taken to reduce plastic waste ⬇ pic.twitter.com/pbvDFsY3B2
— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) January 29, 2018
The Prince of Wales has overseen the release of rehabilitated turtles (including Tomasina the Turtle) back in to the wild in Malta. Man-made waste from our oceans has been found inside the turtles, highlighting the issues of pollution in our seas. . . . #Pollution #Wildlife #ThePrinceOfWales #Turtle #Sustainability #Malta