The closing hybrid conference of the Plastic Busters CAP project was a milestone event in the ongoing efforts against marine litter in the Mediterranean. Taking place on the 8th of November 2023 in Aqaba, Jordan, and concurrently at the University of Siena in Italy, as well as online, this gathering of 120 influential stakeholders from many countries of the region, brought to the forefront an abundance of knowledge, expertise, and invaluable lessons derived from the project’s extensive efforts.

The event was organized by the University of Jordan-Aqaba, the University of Siena and the Mediterranean Information Office for Environment, Culture and Sustainable Development (MIO-ECSDE), in cooperation with the EU funded “Water and Environment Support (WES) in the ENI Neighbourhood South Region” project, under the auspices of the Union for the Mediterranean.

The UfM-labeled Plastic Busters CAP project demonstrates that united, we have the power to reshape the future of the Mediterranean, and this conference is a testament to our collective commitment to combat marine litter and protect our cherished marine ecosystems.“, said Prof. Fuad Al-Horani from the University of Jordan-Aqaba and co-organizer of the event.

The conference provided an engaging and informative day of exploration into the multifaceted issue of marine litter and the innovative solutions that are transforming the Mediterranean region. The Plastic Busters CAP partners presented the results and findings of their research activities and shared their local experiences on how to combat marine litter.

Prof. Michael Scoullos, WES Team Leader, and MIO-ECSDE Chairman emphasized: “The Plastic Busters CAP is a project with an ambitious scope and vision that has demonstrated its capacity to implement priority actions covering the entire management cycle of marine litter. It accomplished this in an integrated manner, as it should be, recognizing that marine litter should be managed as part of the overall offshore-coastal and river basin management, within the Source to Sea approach.

Over its two-year course, the project has achieved impressive results: two resource packs on marine litter monitoring and assessment; two comprehensive training programmes addressing marine litter monitoring and mitigation measures, comprising 5 national and regional events and training 440 participants from more than 20 EuroMediterranean countries; around 100 contributors from 9 countries joining the project’s participatory science campaign; approximately 50 macrolitter and microliter surveys conducted in all marine matrices in the four project pilot countries (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia); a policy toolkit, to name a few.

It has been a thrilling experience collectively navigating the complexities of the Plastocene era within the Plastic Busters CAP project. By persistently forging partnerships, exchanging knowledge, and remaining dedicated to our mission, we can inspire and effect real change in tackling marine plastic pollution in the Mediterranean. However, integral to our quest is for each of us to work at both the individual and societal levels, inducing the necessary behavioral change and the paradigm shift in the way we produce and consume to move away from a throwaway society.”, concluded Dr. Thomais Vlachogianni, Leader of the Plastic Busters CAP Monitoring and Mitigation component and Senior Programme/Policy Officer at MIO-ECSDE.

One of the event highlights was the session featuring initiatives and actions beyond those of the Plastic Busters CAP. Particularly noteworthy was the WES “Mediterranean Champions of Plastic Pollution Prevention” initiative, whose results premiered at the event and captured the audience’s attention. This voluntary initiative has successfully inspired 87 stakeholders, and their partners, from across the Mediterranean, to voluntarily commit to pursuing actions for marine litter prevention. These actions address governance issues, innovative products and/or the application of innovative methods, improved waste collection systems, education and public awareness-raising campaigns, as well as mobilizing synergies. One of the most remarkable aspects was the heightened interest and engagement of the private sector.

Note to the editor

The Plastic Busters CAP is an ENI CBC MED funded project aiming to facilitate decision-makers and stakeholders in effectively tackling the problem of marine litter by integrating EbM (Ecosystem-Based Management Approach) into ICZM (Integrated Coastal Zone Management) planning towards good environmental status. The project entails actions that address the entire management cycle of marine litter, from monitoring and assessment to prevention and mitigation actions. Plastic Busters CAP is a 24 month -long project, with a total budget of €1.109.976,27 million and is co-funded by the European Union under the ENI CBC MED Programme 2014- 2020. It brings together partners from 7 countries of the Mediterranean region, namely Egypt, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Spain and Tunisia.

The backbone of Plastic Busters CAP is the Interreg Med Plastic Busters MPAs; both projects deploy the multidisciplinary strategy and common framework of action developed within the Plastic Busters Initiative led by the University of Siena and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network Mediterranean. This initiative frames the priority actions needed to tackle marine litter in the Mediterranean and was labelled under the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) in 2016, capturing the political support of 43 Euro-Mediterranean countries.

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