West Africa’s contribution to Africa´s GDP growth has increased over the last few years—from below 7 percent in 2016 to more than 28 percent in the last two years (African Development Bank 2020). This growth, compounded by various drivers of marine litter production, leads to predictions of a steady increase in the volume of litter entering the ocean from land in the West, Central and Southern African coastal region (Jambeck et al. 2018). To efficiently respond to marine litter management challenges, both land- and sea-based sources must be addressed.
Most human activities that contribute to marine litter are related to the production, manufacturing, transport, trade, consumption and inappropriate disposal of goods (Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection [GESAMP] 2015; United Nations Environment Programme [UNEP] 2017). Governance has a key role to play in this area. A number of agreements have been adopted at the international and regional levels with direct or indirect measures to prevent marine litter, yet large knowledge gaps remain in translating these measures into regional and national action plans.
This assessment supports delivery of the implementation of UNEA resolutions on marine litter and microplastics, funded by Norway. The project, through a combination of a desktop study and workshops, is developing the first marine litter assessment for the Abidjan Convention area to inform the design of a marine litter action plan for the West, Central and Southern Africa region. It also contributes to the generation and dissemination of information to support action and informs the development of national action plans on marine litter as part of the Global Programme of Action on the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities and the Global Partnership on Marine Litter.