Foreign policy instruments

World Coastal Cleanup day marks end of online #EUBeachCleanUp

19/09/2020 - 08:00
News stories

‘Our ocean starts with you!’ was the theme for the 2020 digital edition of the #EUBeachCleanUp, as the campaign took to social media reminding us that ocean protection begins at home. For the past month up until World Coastal Cleanup day, people across the globe took on challenges to clean their neighbourhood, shop for less packaging, reduce water consumption, and sort waste. EU High Representative Josep Borrell praised these actions saying “Even the smallest actions from home can have an impact on our oceans. #EUBeachCleanUp is a great individual and collective action of volunteers around the world to keep beaches clean and protect marine life.”

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the #EUBeachCleanUp campaign went online for the most part, presenting our followers with four challenges to ‘clean the beach from home’. The Smurfs once again played a major role in this year’s campaign as they set the example of the ocean protection actions for the #EUBeachCleanUp challenges.

The challenges were launched on 19 August on social media platforms with staggered posts until World Coastal Cleanup Day. The #EUBeachCleanUp campaign raised awareness on the threats of marine litter and called for worldwide ocean activism as a response to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The campaign increased the visibility of EU Delegations and Representations across the globe, to the achievement of SDG 13 on Climate Action and SDG 14 on Ocean Protection.

Some Delegations did organise actual beach cleanups or cleaned areas in landlocked countries, all of whom kept the number of participants to a minimum and took on the necessary health precautions. But this did not stop them from achieving desirable results!

And many others are set to clean up their beaches to mark World Coastal Cleanup day, and also in the coming days and weeks!

In a recent tweet, EU High Representative Josep Borrell expressed his support for the #EUBeachCleanUp campaign and underlined the importance of even the smallest actions in keeping beaches clean and protecting marine life, reiterating that 'We don’t have a Planet B'.

On the eve of the World Coastal Cleanup Day, EU Member States agreed on a threshold value to keep Europe’s beaches clean. It was agreed that a beach will need to have less than 20 litter items for every 100 metres of coastline to stay under the threshold.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, said: “This agreement is a sign that we have stepped up our fight against litter on our beaches and coastline, with benefits for our environment, for our blue economy and for all of us. It strengthens our commitment to move towards a zero pollution ambition in synergy with our biodiversity objectives. Now we have a clearer benchmark in achieving clean and healthy seas and I call on Member State authorities to use this agreed value and take the necessary measures to achieve litter-free beaches. The reduction of single use plastics together with better waste management and boosting recycling will help us achieve this goal.”

The beach litter threshold value has been developed under the Commission’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which requires Member States to develop and implement strategies to protect the marine environment. The threshold further demonstrates the EU’s commitment to fulfil the SDG 14.1 to reduce marine pollution significantly by 2025