Case Study: World Oceans Day

What is the World Oceans Day

Planet safeguard has become one of the issues at the national and international political debate center and one of the generational dialogue themes. Saving the biosphere requires every one of us, starting from the companies accused of being the main culprit for environmental pollution up to the people who inhabit the planet.

This report aims to shed light on World Oceans Day, a momentous event that took place on June 8, dedicated to the awareness that the climatic balance of our planet, our livelihood, and the world’s population life are strictly linked to the health of the oceans.

World Oceans Day: from its origin until the 2021 edition

Born in 1992 during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, World Oceans Day was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2008 to draw attention to the vulnerability of the oceanic ecosystem.

The purpose of this Day, which takes place annually on June 8, is to raise awareness and inform the public on the impact of human actions on the blue planet and mobilize the world’s population to protect oceans, seas, and marine resources.

The planet is experiencing an overconsumption situation, more precisely a phase where the use of resources has outpaced the sustainable capacity of the ecosystem. It can be measured by the ecological footprint, namely a complex indicator used to measure the human consumption of natural resources compared to the Earth’s capacity to regenerate them.

An interesting resource concerning the ecological footprint comes from Global Footprint Network’s National Footprint Accounts who published a dataset – we have reproduced with BStreams – concerning humanity’s ecological footprint contracted between 1961 to 2017.
The chart tracks the ecological footprint and biocapacity worldwide, highlighting a drastic increment of the ecological footprint over the years.

Ecological Footprint vs Biocapacity

So, taking up the discussion above, a prolonged situation of overconsumption will inevitably lead to drastic environmental degradation and the loss of natural resources. That’s why shedding light and mobilizing the whole population to take action is not a choice that can be overshadowed but a fundamental duty.

World Oceans Day: the 2021 edition

The 2021 edition theme was The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods. It shed light on the wonder of the ocean and how it is our life source, supporting humanity and every other organism on Earth. An event produced by the Division of Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea of the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations (DOALOS), in partnership with the non-profit organization Oceanic Global, and presenting partner Blancpain, supported by La Mer.

The Life and Livelihoods theme can also be seen as a relevant declaration of intent that launches a decade of challenges to actualize the 14° Sustainable Development Goal “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources” by 2030.

Oceans and plastic pollution: a planetary emergency

Plastic pollution is probably one of the most discussed issues when referring to oceans and seas. The Commonwealth Industrial and Scientific Organization (Csiro) has provided the first global estimate for microplastic on the seafloor, with results suggesting there are 14 million tons in the deep ocean. According to these numbers, ocean pollution could take on drastic consequences within a few years. Microplastics are a significant threat due to their size: there are, in fact, more and more marine resources that eat them, leading to contamination in the entire food chain.

Unfortunately, this is not the only alarming research: according to the platform Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP), every year, almost 8 million tons of plastic waste leaks into oceans, and if we don’t take collective action as soon as possible, by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish. Furthermore, the majority of waste plastic is provoked by single-use plastics.

Over the years, there has been an alarming increase in plastic production worldwide, so much that, according to a study published by the scientific journal Science Advances, it had gone from 2 million tons in 1950 to 381 million tons in 2015. Unfortunately, by now, the situation has not improved at all; that’s why the problem of plastic pollution requires urgent, coordinated action, a shared responsibility, and a common approach.

Chart of the Global plastic production for the world oceans day

World’s major plastic producer

As a result of these studies, the question about who is the country world’s major plastic producer arises alone. A study conducted by the Plastics Europe Market Research Group (PEMRG) and Conversio Market & Strategy GmbH on the Distribution of Global Plastic Production highlights that Asia is the major plastic producer globally, reaching 51%. The worrying fact is that in 2019 China alone got 31% of plastics production. Asia is followed by NAFTA countries 19%, Europe 16%, Middle East, Africa 7%, Latin America 4%, and Cis countries 3%.

World major plastic producer for the world oceans day

How to reduce plastic pollution and save the oceans

Companies who are the main ones responsible for pollution should put purpose beyond profit. That means doing business in a sustainable way, having the planet’s wellness and society at their heart.

One of the most important initiatives to reduce waste and pollution and save the oceans is the transition from the linear economy approach to the circular economy. In practice, it implies leaving the take-make-consume-throw away model in order to adopt a make-use-reuse-remake-recycle approach. A circular economy aims to keep the life cycle of products as extended as possible to reduce waste to a minimum.

The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended.

Therefore, the final goal is having an infinite cycle, where everything is first used and then reused and recycled to avoid the waste of energy necessary for production.

The consumer commitment to save the blue planet

On the other hand, there are many easy ways for consumers to reduce plastic pollution and contribute to the safeguard of the oceans. We will list just some of the many:

1.Switching to reusable water bottles: According to the market research company GlobaData, every year in Europe, more than 50 billion single-use water plastic bottles are sold. The following column chart shows the drastic bottled water consumption in Europe. For example, according to the 2019 data, there has been a 200-liter consumption per capita in Italy alone, while Germany has reached 168 liters.

water bottles consumption in europe that leaks into the oceans

Those data sound even more dramatic if we think that more than half of these plastic bottles are not recycled, remaining forever a waste and compromising the health of the blue planet.

Switching to reusable bottles can mean a significant saving of money and plastic waste.
This also applies to everything in plastic that can be easily substituted with reusable products, like cutlery, glasses, straws, or disposable food trays, to name a few.

2.Avoiding the fast-fashion industry: this is certainly not new, but it is always good to reiterate that it is among the sectors that pollute the most in the world. According to research published on the Nature reviews Earth and environment, the fast-fashion industry:

  • wastes more than 1,500 billion liters of water
  • 20% of water pollution is caused by the processing and dyeing of the garments
  • 190 thousand tons of microplastics pollute the oceans due to the washing of garments made with synthetic fibers
  • 92 million tons of textile waste are produced every year

Even this time, the solution is choosing sustainable clothes that last longer and are of higher quality.

Conclusions of the World Oceans Day

To sum up, this report was a demonstration of how BStreams can be used for real case studies to communicate big amounts of data regarding every field, from the scientific one to the marketing one, to the academic one, without any limit.

The advantage is to manage complex datasets that can be automatically updated, without the need to recreate the chart from scratch.

World Oceans Day has been established to mobilize the world’s population to take urgent actions as soon as possible. There’s no time to waste anymore, and tomorrow may be too late.

Act now. Save the blue planet.

#WorldOceansDay.

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