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The Norwegian Development Program to Combat Marine Litter and Microplastics

In 2018, the Norwegian government launched a new development program to combat marine litter and microplastics. The program is intended to contribute to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) which states that by 2025, the world should prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds.

At the third UN third Environmental Assembly (UNEA 3) in 2017, the world’s environmental ministers agreed on a vision to eliminate the discharge of litter and microplastics to the oceans over time. The Norwegian Development Program will follow-up that vision though concrete initiatives. The UN’s Environmental Assembly also called for enhanced funding to combat marine litter at a global level.

The Government of Norway will spend 1,6 billion NOK on the development program to combat marine litter and microplastics in the period 2019 to 2022.


The main objective of the Norwegian development program to combat marine litter and microplastics is to prevent and greatly reduce the extent of marine litter from large sources in developing countries.

To achieve this, funding is set to focus on four outcomes:

  1. Infrastructure and systems for waste management (including material recycling) for waste from land-based activities in partner countries are
  2. Selected coastal areas and rivers are cleared of waste and the waste is properly managed.
  3. Private sector’s performance with regard to sustainable production and use, and responsible waste management is
  4. Global commitments and national and regional instruments to prevent marine litter (including microplastics) are strengthened.

Which projects are supported, and who are implementing them?

In 2018, about NOK 250 mill. (29 mill. USD) were disbursed to 14 organisations. Among these organisations are multilateral organisations as the UN and the World Bank, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and research institutes. Most of these work with governments, the private sector, civil society organisations and/or local populations. A list of all the organisations receiving support, together with a short description of the projects, can be found further down.

Norway supports several different initiatives through these organisations. Contributing to the creation and development of land-based waste management systems is highly prioritised as sound waste management is the most important measure to reduce the supply of litter to the ocean.

Funding is also provided for research which will give knowledge that can contribute to finding solutions to the problem. Furthermore, it is important to support initiatives that contribute to increased awareness about marine litter. Actors with the required technical expertise contribute with training, knowledge exchange and technology transfer. Some initiatives focus on innovation, development of new technology and sustainable products. Other actors receive support to influence and advise on government policies, regulations and action plans. Norway also supports processes to achieve stronger international commitments and agreements to prevent marine litter. Beach clean- ups and other clean-up activities are supported in some cases, and particularly where they can help contribute to increased awareness raising.

Where are the projects implemented?

The focus is on populous and economically fast-growing countries in Asia with long coastlines. This is where the problem of marine litter is the greatest. In addition, preventative measures are directed towards countries with rapidly growing economies in Africa. Small developing island states also receive support for projects to strengthen waste management systems and for clean-ups along the shoreline.

More facts about marine litter

  • Marine litter originates from many different activities and consists of many different types of litter. Land-based waste constitutes the largest source of marine Plastics makes out the largest share of land-based waste. The characteristics of plastic cause it to break down more slowly than cardboard, paper, wood, metal and other materials. It is these characteristics that make it an environmental problem when it goes astray.
  • According to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), around 280 million tonnes are produced globally every year, and production increases by around five per cent per
  • It is estimated that 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean each This corresponds to 15 tonnes of plastics per minute.
  • More than half of the plastic waste that ends up in the ocean is estimated to originate from a few countries in southeast
  • The United Nations Environmental Assembly is the supreme and governing body of UNEP and meets every other Here, the world’s environment ministers meet to agree on joint initiatives and declarations related to international environmental issues.
  • The United Nations Environmental Assembly has adopted four resolutions on marine litter and microplastics. These resolutions emphasise that improved waste management and waste prevention are key to combating marine litter and must be given top
  • Through these resolutions, it is also agreed that the world must eliminate emissions of waste and microplastics to the sea (the zero vision). As of today, there is no global environmental agreement to deal with marine litter in a comprehensive
  • Norway is working for stronger global commitments to prevent and reduce marine litter.
Marine litter originates from many different activities. Credit: Grid, Arendal
Marine litter originates from many different activities. Credit: Grid, Arendal

Table - Overview of Projects supported by the Norwegian Development Program to Combat Marine Litter and Microplastics

Updated March 2019





Geographical Area


Contact Details

Plastic Waste Free Islands


3 years


St Lucia, Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean, and Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa in the Pacific. More island states can later be considered.

Reduce the amount of plastic litter produced and, at the same time improve waste management in general.

Specific measures will be prepared for each of the three sectors, fisheries, tourism and waste management. Emphasis will be placed on recycling and alternative use of plastic waste and to develop businesses

based on this.

Carl Gustaf Lundin: carl.lundin@iucn.org Joao Sousa: Joao.SOUSA@iucn.org


Support administered by Norad








Ocean Plastic Turned into an Opportunity in Circular Economy (OPTOCE)


3 years


China, India, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand

With the help of public-private partnerships, litter shall be collected from polluted land areas (hotspots), larger rivers and beaches. Experiments will be carried out where non- recyclable materials will be energy-recovered and replace other energy sources such as coal. Cement ovens, (“kilns”) which provide the most combustion, will be preferred. This kind of practice will increase the handling capacity for litter, and reduce the need for landfills and regular incineration, reducing the consumption of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases. Lessons learned from the project will be shared through a regional forum.

Kåre Helge Karstensen: Kare.H.Karstensen@sintef.no


Support administered by Norad








Sound management, prevention and minimization of plastic waste

Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions

2 years


Bangladesh and Ghana

Prevent, and significantly reduce marine litter and microplastics from sources in partner countries. The project has three components: 1) plastic waste crossing national borders (global trade), 2) environmentally sound management of plastic waste and 3) management of sources of plastic waste

Kei Ohno: kei.ohno- woodall@brsmeas.org


Support administered by Norad








No More Plastics in Our Oceans!

WWF Norge

3 years


Global. City projects in China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Hong Kong.

Programme develeopment is also being planned in Africa

To achieve no plastics in nature by 2030. At a global policy level, WWF is pushing for the adoption of a legally binding agreement to eliminate marine plastic pollution. At a corporate level, WWF works with Consumer Goods companies at global and national levels to engage businesses to solve theplastic waste issue. At a cities level, WWF aims at eliminating plastic leakage in 25 cities and initiate a global movement for Plastic Pollution Free Cities.

Lorelou Desjardins: ldesjardins@wwf.no Andrew Fitzgibbon: afitzgibbon@wwf.no


Support administered by Norad








Clean Oceans through Clean Communities

Avfall Norge

3 years


Indonesia. Other possible countries are Vietnam, Cambodia, India + countries in Africa

Reduce emissions of plastics to the ocean through improved waste management through: Training programs focused on system understanding and waste management plans.

Support with the preparation and implementation of locally adapted waste management plans.

Start-up support for projects working to increase the use of collected waste to its highest possible value.

Networking for participants from different geographical areas and other relevant


Henrik Lystad: henrik.lystad@avfallnorge.no


Support administered by Norad








The Nansen Program


2 years


Along the Atlantic coast of Africa, parts of East-Africa and four countries in the Bay of Bengal.

Promote knowledge on the occurrence of marine litter and microplastics in marine ecosystems in order to contribute to a better policy and practice in the area.

Merete Tandstad: Merete.Tandstad@fao.org


Support administered by Norad








The Global Environment Facility


4 years


Individual country projects and regional projects

Support projects that will avoid 50 000 tons of marine plastic from entering the ocean. The GEF intends to achieve this by working mostly on circular economy and more upstream in the production chain. There will also be a link to chemicals which are related to marine litter

Leah Bunce Karrer: lkarrer@thegef.org

Support administered by Norad








Marine Litter and Microplastics


1 year 
(+2 years)


Plans to expand the funding for two more years with the same annual support.

Asia, Africa and SIDS- countries

Mapping of emerging issues, strengthening global and regional coordination and cooperation, and assistance to member countries in their development and implementation of national policies and programmes. The activities correspond particularly to goal 4 in the Norwegian development


Heidi Savelli: heidi.savelli@un.org (for marine litter)


Kati Autere: kati.autere@un.org (for the UNEP-secretariat)


Support administered by Norad









World Bank

7 years


Global impact area, but will focus on East Asia, South Asia, Africa and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Prevent and reduce marine litter and pollution, as well as contribute to the rehabilitation of coastal and marine ecosystems. (Pillar 2 of the fund.) This will be

accomplished through

Delphine Arri: darri@worldbank.org


Support administered by MFA






knowledge development and sharing, country-level support and investments in activities that prevent marine litter and










The Potential Human Health Impacts of Microplastic in the Environment


2 years



Assess the current state of knowledge on the occurrence of microplastics in the environment, consequent human exposure and potential health impacts. Draw conclusions where feasible and identify data gaps and research needs. The most significant research questions associated with the topic of potential toxicity of ingested micro- and nanoplastics will be assessed, with a special focus on drinking water, but also other routes of exposure. Given the specific questions raised about microplastics and drinking- water, with respect to prevention and control, the evidence will be reviewed on removal of microplastics from drinking water and wastewater treatment and prevention of microplastic contamination in water sources.

Michael Hinsch: hinschm@who.int (Focal point for the project)


Jennifer de France: defrancej@who.int (Technical cooperation for the drinking water component)


Support administered by MFA








Establishment of a Programme on Marine Litter and Microplastics


1  year



Map and identify the extent of marine plastic litter along the coast of Mozambique. Type of waste and its source, impact on ecosystems and the natural environment, as well as the extent of microplastics in the coastal zones shall be included in the survey. The current political and economic framework in Mozambique is to be assessed, with the aim of suggesting possible improvements and measures to reduce plastic litter. Prototypes of sewage networks and other suitable measures will be developed to reduce and prevent litter in the sea.

Carlos Manuel dos Santos Serra: cmanuelserra@gmail.com (Focal point for the project)


Diana Carvalho: dianancarvalho@gmail.com


Support administered by the Norwegian embassy in Maputo








Using community cookers to prevent and reduce marine litter

Community Cooker Foundation

1 year


Nairobi + along the coast of Kenya

Facilitate savings on expenses for diesel and coal, and creating new jobs. The cookers burn plastics in an environmentally friendly way, and the heat from the cookers is used for baking, cooking and heating water.

Wakina Mutembei: communitycooker@planning-kenya.com  

Support administered by the Norwegian embassy in Nairobi








The Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Indonesia Oceans, Marine Debris, and Coastal Resources

World Bank

3 years



Provide technical assistance, analytical support, pilot activities and financing to assist the Government of Indonesia in developing and implementing its National Oceans Agenda, including support to achieving the country’s targets for reduction of marine debris and ocean plastic.

Anita Kendrick: akendrick@worldbank.org

Support administered by the Norwegian embassy in Jakarta








Stop Marine Plastic


3 years


Muncas, East-Java, Indonesia

Design, implement and scale up circular economy solutions to marine plastic pollution.

Collection of all plastic waste from households and business, initiate behavior change activities for households to separate waste, improve the integrated solid waste processing station facilities, beach clean-ups. The project partners with Banyuwangi Regency (Directorate of Environment Unit) to build effective, circular waste management systems that eliminate leakage of plastic into the ocean, increase resource efficiency and provide socio- economic benefits for local


Joi Danielson: joi.danielson@systemiq.eart h


Support administered by the Norwegian embassy in Jakarta








Bali Partnership on Marine Debris Action


1 year


Bali, Indonesia

Build a scientific backbone and alignment across the many Balinese stakeholders, finding out where and why plastic is entering waterways and pinpoint sub-districts in highest need of intervention.

Joi Danielson: joi.danielson@systemiq.eart h


Support administered by the Norwegian embassy in Jakarta