Nine projects combating marine pollution selected as UNDP Ocean Innovators

March 9, 2021


New York, 9 March 2021 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today announced the nine winners of the 2020 Ocean Innovation Challenge (OIC). OIC is a unique mechanism launched by UNDP, with support from Sweden and Norway, in January 2020 to accelerate progress on the Ocean SDG 14 by identifying, financing, and mentoring innovative approaches to ocean and coastal restoration and protection that sustain livelihoods and advance the “blue economy”.

Our ocean faces unprecedented threats to the ecosystem goods and services it provides to humanity, from climate regulation to food security to coastal tourism. Despite some progress, many ocean challenges, from nutrient pollution to illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing to ocean acidification, continue to worsen.

The nine winning innovations cover a diverse range of technical, policy and regulatory approaches to reducing marine pollution such as using benign organic substitutes for plastics products, introduction of extended producer responsibility regulations to reduce plastics pollution, and sustainably harvested seaweed as a substitute for synthetic fertilizer.

The first OIC global Call for Proposals focused on marine pollution (SDG 14.1), received over 600 concept proposals from a wide range of stakeholders including NGO, private sector, UN, academia and others.

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner congratulated the 2020 Ocean Innovators: “Humanity depends upon the ocean for a wide range of ecosystem services including the millions of jobs and livelihoods provided by ocean sectors such as fisheries and coastal tourism. But progress on several SDG 14 targets, such as marine pollution and overfishing, remains insufficient, underscoring the need to step up our efforts considerably. I am very pleased to learn of the first cohort of UNDP Ocean Innovators and wish them every success in delivering tangible and scalable solutions to ocean sustainability challenges.”

United Nations Special Envoy for the Oceans, Peter Thomson, expressed his strong support for the 2020 Innovators: “Covering 70% of the planet’s surface the ocean’s health is vital to us all. SDG14, the ocean goal, is one of the most ambitious of the 17 SDGs, and the world clearly needs to accelerate progress on SDG14. Initiatives like UNDP’s Ocean Innovation Challenge provide opportunities for organizations with great ideas for ocean protection and restoration to bring game-changing approaches to fruition. My congratulations to each of the 2020 Ocean Innovators and I look forward to learning of their progress.”

Second Call for Proposals

The Ocean Innovation Challenge also announced that its second Call for Proposals, on sustainable fisheries and aquaculture focusing on SDG targets 14.4, 14.7 and 14.b, officially opens today.  These targets call for ending overfishing and IUU fishing, increasing the economic benefits to SIDS and LDCs from marine resources, and enhancing small scale fishers access to fisheries resources and markets. Eligible organizations are invited to submit proposals by the closing date of May 9. 

The OIC is generously funded via contributions from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad).

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