Clinton Global Initiative Members Join Forces to Combat Ocean Trash

Sep 20, 2011, 06:00 ET from Ocean Recovery Alliance

Ocean Recovery Alliance Announces Progress on Global Alert Citizen Science Platform and Plastic Disclosure Project at Clinton Global Initiative 2011.

Global Alert to report, rate and map floating trash from rivers worldwide via citizens and river groups uploading photographs and video with mobile devices, while the Plastic Disclosure Project asks corporations for their annual reporting of plastic use and management policies.

NEW YORK, Sept. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Ocean Recovery Alliance (ORA) announced progress at the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting, on two CGI commitments made in 2010, the Global Alert platform and the Plastic Disclosure Project. Led by founder, Doug Woodring, the Ocean Recovery Alliance teamed with other CGI members to spur action on the projects.

Ocean Recovery Alliance is showing a demonstration of it's new Global Alert platform at CGI, which was developed as a citizen science and river group tool designed to empower local communities to address the growing problem of trash flowing to the ocean through the world's rivers, lakes, streams and waterways. Since 1991, the United Nations estimates that over 70% of the plastic in the ocean comes from land-based sources created by our daily activities and un-recycled plastic.

Global Alert is an innovative tool to increase public engagement and problem solving, giving citizens and users the ability to report, rate and map plastic pollution levels in rivers. Woodring explains, "Global Alert is an awareness platform and a management tool to drive sustainable change globally, in this case, focused on plastic waste. It is meant to serve as a "neighborhood watch" for rivers to help communities improve awareness about the critical link between rivers and ocean health."

Global Alert is supported with technology created by Ecolayers and allows for photographs, video and weather related data to be uploaded and geo-coded via mobile devices. Using mapping technologies, Global Alert provides citizens with a "visual snapshot" of trash hotspots that will empower community groups, and local, national and international agencies to reduce trash in waterways. Global Alert is built upon a collaborative framework that approaches problem solving from a long-term systems thinking perspective.

Paso Pacifico is also a key stakeholder of Global Alert. Paso Pacifico's CGI Commitment, led by the Executive Director, Dr. Sarah Otterstrom, carries out programs which advance women as environmental leaders across Central America. The Paso Pacifico river group is aligned with ORA's mission to bring together new tools, and ways of thinking through creative collaborations, to improve our ocean environment. Dr. Otterstrom says, "Empowering women to participate in the Global Alert improves the well-being of coastal communities. The ocean resources these women leaders protect will provide food for families and will safeguard communities against climate change for present and future generations."

Global Alert's co-founder and Director of Partnerships, Susan Reeve, has assembled a strategic group of partners that have provided significant time and resources to the project since 2010. Reeve says, "Global Alert harnesses the power of technology, partnerships and social networks to prevent plastic waste from entering the ocean via rivers. Global Alert is a 'win-win' for communities and the environment." Blackstone Ranch Institute, a leader in supporting pioneers of environmental change provided a grant for the program to develop the Global Alert interactive demonstration site being featured at CGI 2011 and at the Economist World Ocean Conference in 2012. The Global Alert demo site provides a glimpse of how community groups, local, national and international agencies can use the platform to see, share and solve the floating trash problem. Global Alert will shape the way that communities play an integral role in bettering their environments by inspiring cooperation, collaboration and solutions.

The Plastic Disclosure Project (PDP) is another Ocean Recovery Alliance 2010 CGI commitment, and a solution being shared at CGI 2011 in which progress was made, to address the issues of plastic waste. The Plastic Disclosure Project targets the sources of plastic discarded into oceans and landfills, engaging with major corporate, institutional and community users of plastic, on behalf of investors and other stakeholders. Through an annual disclosure request, PDP will encourage major users of plastic to measure their "plastic footprint" and develop strategies to reduce the environmental impact of their plastic use. The Plastic Disclosure Project is engaging hundreds of companies and institutions around the world to assess and report their plastic use and management strategies. Since 2010 Ocean Recovery Alliance, in collaboration with the Association of Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia (ASRIA) and other partners, has been laying the groundwork for the voluntary disclosure request. The information on the first annual PDP disclosure request from 2010 will be made public in October 2011. The Plastic Disclosure Project is a new investor-led initiative that encourages corporations and other institutions to measure and disclose their "plastic footprint," then strengthen plastic management strategies to reduce plastic's environmental impact. "If you measure it, you can manage it," says Erik Floyd, the co-founder of PDP. He further notes that, "It is ironic that several of plastic's most important benefits – durability, lightness and low cost – are also reasons why it has become a major environmental problem."

This global initiative aims to reduce plastic waste in the environment, encourage sustainable business practices (including efficiencies in plastic use, reuse and recycling), inspire improved designs and innovative solutions, and raise awareness of plastic investment risks and opportunities." The Plastic Disclosure Project envisions a world in which the use of plastic adds value for consumers and businesses without having a negative impact on the environment. Woodring explains, "Our goal is to have companies determine how they can manage and use plastic more judiciously and cost effectively, and to receive recognition for doing so with their customers and investors. Plastic pollution is a major and growing global phenomenon that has crept up on society over the past five decades."

The Ocean Recovery Alliance has also joined with another CGI member, the Ocean Conservancy on a collaborative effort called the Trash Free Seas Alliance to bring together leaders from across sectors to participate in meaningful dialogue and to develop concrete solutions to eliminate ocean pollution.

Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges. Since 2005, CGI Annual Meetings have brought together nearly 150 current and former heads of state, 18 Nobel Prize laureates, hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations, major philanthropists, directors of the most effective nongovernmental organizations, and prominent members of the media. These CGI members have made more than 2,000 commitments, which have already improved the lives of 300 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued in excess of $63 billion. For more information, visit www.clintonglobalinitiative.org.

SOURCE Ocean Recovery Alliance