Ahead of the IMF/World Bank Group meetings, KfW Group on behalf of the German Federal Government, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Agence Française de Developpement (AFD) launched the Clean Oceans Initiative to support the development and implementation of sustainable projects that will reduce pollution in the world’s oceans over the next five years. This partnership will provide EUR 2-billion long-term financing for projects aiming at reducing marine litter, especially plastics, as well as untreated wastewater discharge, with a view to crowding-in private sector investment.

The three partner institutions will combine their expertise and experience to support the development and implementation of viable projects in this sector. The Clean Oceans Initiative will also provide innovative financing structures catering for the needs of private enterprises of varying size, including micro-enterprises, and for research and innovation projects.

The Clean Oceans Initiative is global in nature but will focus particularly on operations in riverine and coastal areas in developing countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, since ninety percent of plastic waste entering the oceans through rivers, come from 10 major river systems located in Africa and Asia, where access to regular waste collection and controlled waste disposal often lacks.

The Clean Oceans Initiative will notably target the following sectors:

  • Collection, pre-treatment and recycling of waste and particularly plastics collected on land, from rivers and from the sea;
  • Improved waste management in ports and harbours to support the reduction of marine littering from ships and transport on water;
  • Support to plastic prevention measures, market development for recycling plastics and other materials and public awareness building;
  • Support to the implementation of wastewater treatment plants that enable reduction in the discharge of plastics and other pollutants to rivers and oceans.

KfW CEO Dr. Günther Bräunig said: “For KfW, the comprehensive and consistent focus on sustainability will be one of the major challenges in the years ahead. To this end, we have committed ourselves to an ambitious “Sustainable Finance Roadmap” and plan to embed the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the German Federal Government's sustainability strategy into our sustainability model. Protecting the oceans from pollution is one of the most important tasks requiring a coordinated and targeted international response. We have therefore joined forces with the European Investment Bank and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) to launch the Clean Oceans Initiative to pool and expand our respective activities to protect the oceans.”

EIB President Dr. Werner Hoyer said: “Cleaning up our oceans is a truly global challenge. Partnership is key to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and I am delighted that the EIB, KfW and AFD are joining forces to finance the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans through this initiative. None of our institutions is new to this sector. We have been collaborating for some time on projects that reduce marine litter and the discharge of untreated wastewater. The Clean Oceans Initiative will step up and allow us to effect a quantum leap in these efforts. EIB, KfW and AFD have a critical role to play: Our involvement can make a fundamental contribution to channelling funds and crowding in private sector investments, developing innovative solutions to clean the oceans for future generations.“

AFD Chief Executive officer Rémy Rioux said: “Collaboration is absolutely essential to efficiently address the global challenge of eliminating pollution and other damage sources of our oceans. The activities that are funded through this 2-billion euros initiative are based on collaboration with actors on the ground: local authorities, the private sector, civil society organisations and governments. The oceans are one crucial common good for humanity’s future. We all need to come up with new and courageous ways to ensure that the oceans are safe from pollution and irreversible degradation. It is therefore with great pride that AFD contributes to this global effort, with the aim of eliciting new commitments from all.”

Key facts

Oceans are a global public good, providing natural resources including food, medicines, and biofuels. Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods and the market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at EUR 2 600 billion per year, so about 5 per cent of global GDP. Maintaining clean oceans is therefore crucial for sustainable development and poverty reduction by increasing people’s income and improving health. It also supports climate change mitigation as oceans absorb about thirty percent of carbon dioxide, buffering the impacts of global warming.

An estimated 8 million tons of plastic waste and microplastics, is discharged into the world’s oceans every year, threatening marine ecosystems, people and communities that depend on clean oceans. If we continue along this path, it is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastics than fish in the oceans by weight.

Recycling plastic waste to the ocean can breathe