United Nations
Pacific plastic pollution: A system for regional grassroots solutions
by The Sustainable Coastlines Charitable Trust (Non-governmental organization (NGO))
From the very outset of The Ocean Conference, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed the importance of information, stating, We cannot improve what we do not measure. A common thread throughout this conference and in many previous marine litter-focussed meetings is the critical need for strong data to inform and facilitate decision-making.

Marine litter is an issue that is significantly lacking in high-quality information in the Pacific region. SPREPs Cleaner Pacific 2025 strategy notes, The extent of the marine litter problem in the Pacific has not been comprehensively documented. Marine litter is an issue that we can solve. To work towards a plastic-free Pacific, we need a detailed understanding of both the problem and the most effective solutions.

In collaboration with New Zealand government departments and utilizing the UNEP / IOC Guidelines on Survey and Monitoring of Marine Litter, The Sustainable Coastlines Charitable Trust is committed to the design, development and rollout of a long-term program for the necessary collection of marine litter and analysis of data associated with it.

Alongside this, we will deliver community-engaging and curriculum-aligned education and awareness activities aimed at changing behavior to stop litter at its source. By evaluating and comparing interventions, we will gain a strong understanding of the most effective litter-reducing solutions so that we can focus on and optimize those that work best.

Critical to this strategy is the ongoing and deep-rooted involvement of youth and citizen scientists -- alongside scientists and technical advisers -- to ensure that we inform and engage communities across the Pacific in real, grassroots, scientifically rigorous actions.

We will commit already-confirmed funding to pilot this program in Aotearoa New Zealand. To leverage the investment and spread the program further, we will adapt, refine and roll out locally specific versions in our branches in Papua New Guinea and Hawaii and -- after proving the concept we will work alongside SIDS around the Pacific to deliver impacts on an even larger scale.

Working with leaders from within Pacific communities, the program will focus on enhancing human capacity through in-country and regional training programs. This work will ensure that inspired community members and leaders have open access to the best practice tools we will have developed for reporting on, removing and preventing litter. We will provide ongoing support and training, with a long-term aim of creating employment opportunities around the region for implementing this critical work.

The data collated throughout the programs clean-up and awareness activities will be freely, openly and publicly available through a purpose-built database equipped with smart communication and visualization tools. Politicians and the public, students and scientists, writers and researchers alike, will all have digestible information on our plastic problem and the most effective solutions to address it, right at their fingertips.

In other words; we commit to clearing coastlines around the Pacific of harmful litter, delivering increasingly effective interventions to prevent it, and doing so for as long as it takes to solve this challenge. We would love to partner with you to make this happen.
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): Reduction of single-use plastics
  • Coastal clean-ups:
  • Plastics recovery/recycling/reuse:
By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism
Type of commitment
  • Economic benefits from sustainable tourism
Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
Type of commitment
  • Scientific, socioeconomic and interdisciplinary research
  • Research capacity development
  • Data access and sharing
  • Training and professional development
  • Scientific cooperation
  • Actions that support SIDS and LDCs
Mar 2018
Pilot of initial litter data collection methodology and educational intervention completed, New Zealand.
Oct 2017
Research to evaluate existing data and outreach methodologies/strategies and design the best path forward.
Oct 2018
Design and roll out litter data collection methodology and educational intervention in Hawaii and Papua New Guinea.
Oct 2019
Design and roll out litter data collection methodology and educational intervention in additional Pacific SIDS.
Staff / Technical expertise
10 full time staff with extensive scientific, technical, logistical and educational expertise.
Financing (in USD)
2,000,000 USD
In-kind contribution
A $1 million purpose-built training space, The Flagship Education Centre, has been built in Auckland, New Zealand to host regional training and capacity development activities.
Basic information
Time-frame: June 2017 - April 2021
Sustainable Coastlines New Zealand, Sustainable Coastlines Papua New Guinea, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Let's Do It World.
Ocean Basins
  • North Pacific
  • South Pacific
Beneficiary countries
Marshall Islands
New Zealand
Papua New Guinea
Solomon Islands
United States of America
Other beneficaries
American Samoa, Cook Islands, Guam, French Polynesia, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, New Caledonia, Niue, Tokelau, Wallis and Futuna.
Contact information
Camden Howitt, Co-Founder and Coastlines Lead, camden@sustainablecoastlines.org, +64212127287
Auckland, New Zealand
Other SDGs
United Nations