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Cleaning up our oceans

What we pollute on land will eventually end up in our ocean. Marine litter is already a global problem that threatens the ocean ecosystem. How will our future look when even the oceans are polluted? It’s about time that we lift our gaze towards the sea. That is exactly what the World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) will do In Delhi next week.

Our future relies on keeping our oceans healthy. We need a stronger international collaboration on how to share knowledge on dealing with hazardous chemicals and plastic pollution. The problem and solutions on how to combat marine litter are some of the many topics that will be discussed during this year’s WSDS, where the Norwegian Embassy will be the Star Partner. Speakers from all over the world will discuss emergent sustainability issues such as how to manage plastic waste and the transmission to a low-carbon economy.

Why is this topic important for Norway and India?

India is a hotspot when it comes to emerging pollution challenges. While the growing population puts pressure on our environment, the Indian air is getting more and more hazardous to inhale. Fossil fuel industries, increased consumption patterns, and waste management are all major challenges in a time when sustainable living is key.

While many of our pollution challenges are produced on land, they are transported to the oceans. Plastic waste can be transported over long distances through rivers, and soon starts degrading into microplastic. This makes it hard to track and mitigate. The waste that eventually ends up in the sea is destroying our ocean ecosystems. Last year, 30 bags of plastic were dragged out of a dead whale’s stomach on the Norwegian west coast. Many of the bags had prints in English on them, which demonstrates how pollution in one particular place may travel across borders.

Release of chemicals and plastic waste into the sea is a grand problem all around the world. Around eight million tons of plastic enters the ocean worldwide every day. It is crucial to address these problems in coastal countries like Norway and emerging industrial economies such as India.

These examples are literally a drop in the ocean of problems faced by the world today, thereby making arenas such as WSDS even more relevant. The summit is held in New Delhi between 15-17 February, and will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is organized by the sustainable development think tank TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute), which is an important partner for the Norwegian Embassy in promoting Indo-Norwegian cooperation in the field of environment and sustainable development.