S20 urges measures to tackle marine plastic pollution and other major threats

The world’s leading science academies have sent a strong message to the world that science has a crucial role in protecting coastal and marine ecosystems from very serious current and future threats.

The national academies of the world’s wealthiest countries, known as the S20, produced a statement at a gathering in Japan recently outlining the greatest dangers to marine environments: plastic debris and other pollution, damaging fishing practices, and global warming, ocean acidification and ocean deoxygenation.

The statement emphasised the importance of expert research, innovation and evidence-based approaches toward resolving undesirable impacts on marine environments and ocean health that are directly linked to ecosystems and human wellbeing. It also encouraged increased recycling and energy efficient practices, as well as global collaborations at all levels with science-based target setting and follow ups to reduce stressors on coastal and marine ecosystems.

Academy Fellow Emeritus Professor Cheryl Praeger represented the Australian Academy of Science at the event, and coral reef expert Academy Fellow Professor Terry Hughes provided advice to the statement.

The statement, ‘Threats to Coastal and Marine Ecosystems and Conservation of the Ocean Environment—with Special Attention to Climate Change and Marine Plastic Waste’, was submitted to Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

This was the first time the S20 was held in Asia and comes ahead of the major G20 summit to be held in June in Japan.

The 2020 S20 and G20 meetings will take place in Saudi Arabia.

Academy Fellow Emeritus Professor Cheryl Praeger (second from left), at the presentation of the S20 statement to Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (front right).

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