​Project Inception

The Australian-funded Pacific Ocean Litter Project was borne from the Australian Government’s desire to assist SPREP and Pacific island countries (PICs) with the implementation of agreed actions under the Marine Litter Action Plan, and forms part of broader Australian Government support for sustainable oceans in the Pacific.

POLP is funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) through the Australian Aid Program and is administered on behalf of the Australian Government by the Department of Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water (DCCEEW) under a grant arrangement with SPREP as the regional implementing partner.

Preliminary design work for the Project commenced in March 2019 and included representatives from SPREP, other Pacific donors and officers from the then Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. The design initially addressed key marine litter threats and proposed actions identified through the Marine Litter Action Plan under the original four-year, AUD 8 million funding commitment by the Australian Government. In July 2019 Australia expanded this commitment to support a six-year, AUD 16 million project investment.

Given the enthusiasm with which PICs have embraced this issue, the Australian Government’s funding commitment under POLP represents a timely investment for the provision of much needed technical support, capacity building assistance and resources to implement plastic reduction measures.


Plastic Pollution 

Marine litter is a pressing environmental, health and economic development problem for Pacific island countries. Plastic pollution in particular, threatens the livelihoods of Pacific island communities that are dependent on coastal systems for food, trade and tourism. Plastics adversely affect fish and other marine life, coral reefs, beaches and mangrove forests, and devalues the amenity of coastlines, threatening the growing tourism sector.

At the 2017 and 2018 Pacific Island Forum leaders’ meetings, Pacific leaders committed to addressing the issue of single-use plastics as a matter of urgency and endorsed SPREP’s Pacific Regional Action Plan for Marine Litter (or simply the ‘Marine Litter Action Plan’).

Many Pacific countries have already commenced or announced plastic reduction initiatives such as plastic bag bans or levies, plastic straw and polystyrene take away container bans and container deposit levies. These initiatives emphasise the Pacific region’s strong commitment to address marine plastic pollution, which the POLP is working to support through actions to refuse, reduce and find alternatives to single-use plastics.


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