United Nations
Desktop Study on Marine Litter including Microplastics in the Arctic (Phase I)
by Sweden, Norway, Iceland (Government)
Marine litter is one of the most pervasive pollution problems affecting the marine environment globally. The universal challenge of addressing and managing marine litter is a useful illustration of the global and transboundary nature of many other marine environmental problems.
Marine litter results from human behaviour, whether accidental or intentional. The greatest sources of it are land-based activities, including: wastes released from dumpsites near the coast or river banks, the littering of beaches by tourism and recreational users of the coasts, fishing industry activities and ship-breaking yards. Storm-related events V like floods X flush the resulting wastes out to sea where they sink to the bottom or are carried on coastal eddies and ocean currents. The major sea-based sources include: abandoned, lost, or discarded fishing gear shipping activities and legal and illegal dumping.

In June 2014, governments attending the first UN Environment Assembly noted with concern the impacts of plastics and microplastics on the marine environment, fisheries, tourism and development calling for strengthened action, in particular by addressing such materials at the source. A resolution was adopted calling for the strengthening of information exchange mechanisms, requesting UNEP to present scientific assessments on microplastics for consideration by the next session of the Assembly, Global Partnership on Marine Litter.

The aim of the project is to provide the current status on marine litter in the Arctic, including:
To evaluate the scope of marine litter in the Arctic, and its effects on the marine environment;
To enhance knowledge and awareness of marine litter in the Arctic;
To enhance cooperation by the eight Arctic Council member governments to reduce negative impacts of marine litter to the Arctic marine environment; and
To contribute to the prevention and/or reduction of marine litter pollution in the Arctic and its impact on marine organisms, habitats, public health and safety, and reduce the socioeconomic costs it causes.
Progress reports
By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution
Type of commitment
  • Other (please specify):
  • Coastal clean-ups:
  • Plastics product bans or restrictions :
  • Plastics recovery/recycling/reuse:
  • Management of ship-based pollution and/or port waste management
December 2019
Desktop study on marine litter in the Arctic region with the aim to provide the current status on this issue.
December 2019
Communication products for outreach.
December 2019
Exploration of the possibility of developing an outline for a framework of an Arctic regional action plan on marine litter.
Other, please specify
The partners will contribute with approximately USD 77,000.
Basic information
Time-frame: March 2017 - December 2019
The Government of Sweden, The governments of Norway, The Government of Iceland, and Aleut International Association, PAME Secretariat, The Arctic Council (particularly working groups PAME and AMAP), Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management
Ocean Basins
  • Arctic Ocean
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
UN Environment-GPA, Ospar, ICES, The Nordic Council, IUCN, NGOs, Other Regional Seas Organizations and collaborations targeting the same issue
Contact information
Jessica Nilsson, Senior Advisor, Jessica.nilsson@havochvatten.se, +46 106986215
Gothenburg, Sweden
Other SDGs
United Nations