Alicante hosts today the first ever Ocean Summit in the Volvo Ocean Race Village. The event, which will bring together sport, business, local government and science, will provide a platform to bring about real action on ocean health, with a focus on plastic pollution.

Key speakers include Paulo Mirpuri, President of the Mirpuri Foundation, principal sustainability partner and main sponsor of the “Turn the Tide on Plastic” team; Erik Solheim, Executive Director of United Nations Environment; Volvo Ocean Race Board Member Bill Law; Peter Thomson, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean; and Wendy Schmidt, President of the Schmidt Family Foundation. 

They will be joined by a host of other industry leaders, Volvo Ocean Race sailors, ocean advocates, guests and media from around the globe.

It’s the first of seven Ocean Summits to be held along the 2017-18 route. Paul Rose, explorer, television presenter and Vice President of the Royal Geographical Society will host the event.

Ocean Summits are a platform to drive discussion, bring together some of the greatest minds in the world, create local relevance in each market and call out decision makers in business and government to help Turn the Tide on Plastic pollution.

As well as Alicante, other Host Cities featuring Ocean Summits include Cape Town on 7 December 2017, Hong Kong on 22 January 2018, Newport on 18 May 2018, Cardiff on 5 June 2018, Gothenburg on 18 June 2018 and The Hague on 27-28 June 2018.

Through these invitation-only events, the aim is to maximise community and stakeholder engagement in order to raise awareness of ocean health issues, and to engage and educate local stakeholders in order to inspire meaningful action.

The world is waking up to this problem – and it’s not too late to reverse an alarming trend which has seen plastic drown our oceans, harm our animals and enter our foodchain. Rwanda and Bangladesh have already banned plastic bags and Canada has added micro beads to its toxic substances list.

France has vowed to phase out single use plastic cups, plates and cutlery by 2020 – and the United States and United Kingdom have recently banned micro beads in cosmetic products.

It’s a great start, but we can all do more to tackle the plastic pollution problem. Below are 5 reasons why we need to act today:

-In 2015, we produced 322 million tonnes of plastic – that’s more than 900 Empire State Buildings.

-Each year, 8 million tonnes of that plastic leaks into the ocean – and marine litter harms over 600 marine species. Some 15% of those species are endangered.

-Scientists estimate that at least 51 trillion microplastic particles are already in our oceans. Micro plastic comes from a variety of sources – degradation of plastic, but also from synthetic garments in washing machines.

-A single item of clothing can release up to 1,900 micro plastic fibres in each wash – and this makes its way to the ocean.

-By 2050, more than 99% of seabirds will have ingested plastic.