On the sidelines of the IMF/World Bank Group’s annual meetings, held in Bali, Indonesia, from October 12 to 13, 2018, the world’s leading climate financiers declared war on plastic to save the oceans.

The KfW Group (the German Development Agency), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the French Development Agency (AFD) have launched the "Clean Oceans" initiative. With a budget of €2 billion, the programme aims to finance projects to combat ocean pollution in three parts of the world, including Africa.

The KfW Group, on behalf of the German Federal Government, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the French Development Agency (AFD) have launched the “Clean Oceans” initiative to support the development and implementation of sustainable projects, which will reduce ocean pollution over the next five years.

“Clean Oceans” is global in scope, but will focus in particular on the coastal and riparian areas of developing countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Regions where 90% of plastic waste that pollutes the oceans enters the oceans via major river networks, due to the lack of regular collection of recovery and disposal waste upstream.

A baseline study published in October 2017 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that ten rivers alone were responsible for 88 to 95% of plastic waste discharge into the oceans. Eight of them are in Asia. Two of these great rivers are African: the Nile and the Niger.

The situation on African beaches is a growing concern

Many beaches and their surroundings are also in an alarming situation on the continent. They are the receptacle for plastic bags, household and industrial waste, oil discharges from ships and untreated waste water. Thus, the sea, which is a source of nutrition and a leisure environment where people can swim, is unfortunately considered to be a dump. According to UN-Environment figures published in 2010, of the 32 million metric tons of plastics discharged into the oceans and coasts, 4.4 million tons are in Africa. It has a negative impact on the economy (seaside tourism) and human health, on a continent where 60% of the population lives near the coasts and banks. It is therefore to support this clear majority of the African population and restore marine and coastal ecosystems that the partnership between the KfW Group, AFD and the EIB is working.

These institutions have released €2 billion for the initiative, and hope to attract further private sector investment. The loans will be aimed at all types of businesses, including micro-enterprises, as well as research and innovation projects.  These include, in particular: activities for the collection, pretreatment and recycling of waste, especially plastics, collected on land, in rivers or at sea; improving waste management in ports to help reduce marine waste from ships and river transport; supporting measures to prevent plastic, develop the recycling market for plastics and other materials and raise public awareness; and supporting the establishment of waste water treatment facilities to reduce plastic and other pollutants in rivers and oceans.

By Boris Ngounou