Urban Ocean

Building clean, healthy cities for clean, healthy seas.

Overview

Urban Ocean is a capacity-building and accelerator program to end ocean plastic pollution and build more resilient communities in cities. Urban Ocean champions circular economy principles, builds awareness of ocean plastic, assesses waste management systems, and supports cities to develop projects that address the interrelated challenges of ocean plastics and resilience. Since 2019, the program has been implemented in cities across Asia and Latin America. The program is jointly implemented by Resilient Cities Network, Ocean Conservancy, and The Circulate Initiative.

Challenge

11 million tonnes of plastic waste enter the ocean every year, with this number expected to triple by 2040. This plastic comes primarily from mismanaged waste streams – a result of economic and population growth outpacing infrastructure development. While awareness of the problem of marine debris has increased rapidly over the past few years, there is still a considerable gap in understanding and implementation of realistic solutions, such as stopping land-based leakage through improved waste management and reducing the amount of single-use plastic produced. There is also a need to connect these solutions with the unique needs and priorities of communities to ensure sustainable and efficient use of local resources.

Areas of Action

Urban Ocean is a first-of-its-kind initiative which aims to achieve system transformation by working with leading cities and partners willing to invest in change at scale.

The program has three areas of action: 

  1. Establishing a peer network of cities that commit to and jointly work on solving interrelated problems around waste management, resilience, circular economy and ocean plastic through sharing of best-practices and capacity development; 
  2. Assessing the situation on the ground using the Circularity Assessment Protocol (CAP) to enable cities to comprehensively map challenges, risks, and vulnerabilities which will inform strategy and project development;
  3. Developing project strategies, solutions and proposals that can be presented to potential partners to build appropriate public-private partnerships between cities, businesses, and financing organizations.

Why Partner with Urban Ocean

Urban Ocean has developed a proof-of-concept that combines scientific baseline assessment methodology by Dr. Jenna Jambeck with project identification and prioritization. Urban Ocean builds on more than eight years of city relationships by Resilient Cities Network and leverages the expertise of Ocean Conservancy, The Circulate Initiative, and a diverse ecosystem of stakeholders who have the power to collectively solve the plastic pollution challenge in cities. 

Participating Cities

Bangkok

Can Tho

Chennai

Melaka

Mumbai

Panama City

Pune

Salvador

Santa Fe

Santiago

Semarang

Surat

Mentor Cities

Christchurch

Milan

Rotterdam

Toyama

Vejle

Urban Ocean Partners

Other Funding Partners

Key Resources

City Opportunity Booklet

The following opportunities have been identified by city stakeholders, in close collaboration with the Urban Ocean program, as high-impact solutions for multiple challenges. These opportunities have been carefully analyzed and prioritized to address the ocean plastic waste issue while building equitable, sustainable, and resilient cities.

Read Booklet

Urban Ocean Toolkit

Learn more about the rich body of information and tools to support Urban Ocean cities we have developed with this interactive toolkit. It is our hope that this will help additional communities build clean, healthy cities for clean, healthy seas.

Read Toolkit

Project Statements

Can Tho

Enhancing Can Tho’s River Waste Management and Recycling Facilities focuses on creating an enabling environment for recycling businesses to prosper while demonstrating how a well-managed waste cycle in urban areas can enhance tourism, economic activity and equity and support the cleaning of the city’s rivers.

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Chennai

Bringing Circularity in Chennai’s Solid Waste Management focuses on collectively addressing solid waste management and leakage challenges by leveraging collaborations across active
and interested citizens, local officials, private companies and NGOs to move the city towards becoming a near zero waste and plastic free environment. 

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Melaka

Creating Clear River and Coastal Areas and Enhancing the City’s Recycling Infrastructure focuses on creating a more efficient waste management system that will strengthen the circular economy, create job opportunities by encouraging community involvement as the key enabler to avoid waste leakages, reduce GHG emissions and create a strong tourism sector in Melaka.

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Panama City

Enhance the Recovery of Recyclable Material in Panama City focuses on balancing short-term actions that demonstrate the value of recycled material with longer-term structural solutions to strengthen the recycling industry in the city and promote green jobs and equity, decreasing the amount of waste generated.

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Pune

Supporting Transformation of Energy and Recovery Materials Initiative focuses on leading the circular economy transformation in Pune by formalizing recycling jobs and enterprises, empowering women in the sector, , supporting innovation in materials recovery, leveraging partnerships along material and value chains and mitigating GHG emissions from waste management.

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Semarang

Adaptation Waste Management Models and Inclusive Waste Governance focuses on leading the circular economy transformation in Semarang, by increasing the waste service coverage, the amount of waste managed and recycling rates in the city through an inclusive model.

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Circularity Assessment Protocol Reports

Developed by the Circularity Informatics Lab at the University of Georgia (UGA), the Circularity Assessment Protocol (CAP) is a standardized assessment protocol to inform decision-makers through collecting community-level data on plastic usage and management. Grounded in materials flow and systems thinking concepts, the CAP uses a hub-and-spoke model to holistically characterize how consumer plastic flows into a community, is consumed, and flows out, either through waste management systems or leakage into the environment. The model, shown below, consists of seven spokes: input, community, material and product design, use, collection, end of cycle, and leakage. At the center, the system is driven by policy, economics, and governance with key influencers including non-governmental organizations, industry, and government.

Chennai, India

Between September 2021 and December 2021, a team from Okapi Advisory Services (Okapi), with guidance and support from the Circularity Informatics Lab, conducted fieldwork in the city of Chennai, India. The CAP was conducted with support from the city’s local government, the Chief Resilience Officer (a top-level advisor in the city that is responsible for leading, coordinating and developing a city’s resilience strategy and policy), and the larger Urban Ocean Team.

Read CAP report for Chennai

Can Tho, Vietnam

Between October 2020 and January 2021, a team from the DRAGON Institute at Can Tho University, with guidance and support from the Circularity Informatics Lab, conducted fieldwork in the city of Can Tho, Vietnam. The CAP was conducted with support from the city’s local government, Resilience Officers, and the larger Urban Ocean team.

Read CAP for Can Tho, Vietnam

Read CAP for Can Tho, Vietnam (Vietnamese)

Melaka, Malaysia

Between October 2020 and March 2021, a team from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) with guidance and support from the Circularity Informatics Lab, conducted fieldwork in Melaka, Malaysia. The CAP was conducted with support from the city’s local government, the Chief Resilience Officer (a top-level advisor in the city that is responsible for leading, coordinating and developing a city’s resilience strategy and policy), and the larger Urban Ocean team.

Read CAP for Melaka

Panama City, Panama

Between October 2020 and March 2021, a team from Centro de Estudios y Acción Social Panameño (CEASPA), with guidance and support from the Circularity Informatics Lab, conducted fieldwork in the city of Panama City, Panama.The CAP was conducted with support from the city’s local government, Resilience Officers, and the larger Urban Ocean team.

Read CAP for Panama City
Read CAP for Panama City (Spanish)

Pune, India

Between October 2020 and March 2021, a team from The Centre for Environment Education (CEE), with guidance and support from the Circularity Informatics Lab, conducted fieldwork in the city of Pune, India. The CAP was conducted with support from the city’s local government, the Chief Resilience Officer (a top-level advisor in the city that is responsible for leading, coordinating, and developing a city’s resilience strategy and policy), and the larger Urban Ocean team.

Read CAP for Pune

Santiago, Chile

In March – April 2022, a team from Circularity Informatics Lab (CIL) conducted fieldwork in Santiago, Chile, with field support from the Ministry of Environment and students from the Universidad de San Sebastián in Santiago. The CAP was also conducted with support from Ocean Conservancy (OC).

Read CAP for Santiago

Read CAP for Santiago (Spanish)

Semarang, Indonesia

Between October and November 2020, a team from the Initiatives for Regional Development and Environmental Management (IRDEM) at Diponegoro University, with guidance and support from the Circularity Informatics Lab, conducted fieldwork in the city of Semarang, Indonesia. The CAP was conducted with support from the city’s local government, Resilience Officers, and the larger Urban Ocean team.

Read CAP for Semarang

News and Blogs

Resilient Community Impact Funds to award Jakarta’s Kalibaru Hub: A catalyst for sustainable waste management and local economic growth 

Resilient Community Impact Funds to award Jakarta’s Kalibaru Hub: A catalyst for sustainable waste management and local economic growth 

Resilient Community Impact Funds to award Jakarta’s Kalibaru Hub: A catalyst for sustainable waste management and local economic growth
Ocean Conservancy, The Circulate Initiative, and Resilient Cities Network Announce Three New Cities to Join Urban Ocean®

Ocean Conservancy, The Circulate Initiative, and Resilient Cities Network Announce Three New Cities to Join Urban Ocean®

Salvador, Brazil; Santa Fe, Argentina; and Bangkok, Thailand, are latest cities to join initiative to tackle ocean plastic pollution.
Speaker Series 2023 #6 | Ocean and Circularity

Speaker Series 2023 #6 | Ocean and Circularity

Cities are facing more and more severe weather events in recent years exacerbating the urgent need to better prepare themselves to withstand the adverse impact of disasters which can enable an ...

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