Domenico Vito, PhD engineer, works in European projects in northern Italy. He has been an observer of the Conferences of the Parties since 2015 and has been active participant and coordinator of UNEP MGCY Marine Litter and Microplastic Working Group
Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons, that currently circulate our marine environment (OC, 2020). Plastic pollution originates from land before it makes its way into our waters. As a result,it jeopardizes the health and subsistence of marine ecosystems through ingestion, entanglement, and chemical contamination.
According to UNEP, the scale of plastic pollution accounts for 75 billion US dollars in social and environmental costs every year.
Since then, several solutions to marine litter and microplastics have emerged. However, plastic, and especially single use plastic, continues to find its way into our oceans. Beaches and waterfronts are littered with plastic, islands of plastics can be found floating in the ocean, seas,streams,rivers,and lakes.
Currently, indeed the emphasis on plastic waste prevention represents a key principle.
However at this stage, it will not be just a matter of containing plastic pollution from entering waters.
Ensuring proper monitoring and reporting of marine litter is essential to assess the status of coastal environments.
Several experiences on high resolution satellite images are present in literature in order to create integrated platforms to monitor marine litter internationally .
However, the so called Citizen Science Approach provides several experiences. More specifically in areas with limited data and capacity to establish comprehensive waste m monitoring programs. To employ some of the most relevant case studies, the pilot project called Closing the Loop from the UN ESCAP, or the Marine Litter Watch Month Program organized the ACT4LITTER Project in the Mediterranean sea as well as the Citizen Science Association regional platform. The collaboration with the Civil Society monitors programs and initiatives to collect relevant data to provide an opportunity, even though citizen science is coupled with Open Science, as the attitude to make scientific research and its dissemination accessible to all governmental levels.
The study explores case studies and methodologies to foster the monitoring of marine litter through citizen science approaches. More specifically, the design of the participatory data collection and mapping will be analyzed. In order to widen the possibilities of improving better knowledge of coastal debris status through the involvement of local communities. Participatory Open GIS platforms like JOSM, the Global Partnership on Marine-Litter (GPML) digital platform, and the participatory use of QGIS will be used towards better implementation of citizen science and social campaigns on marine litter data collection advocacy.