‘Clean our Ocean’ is the theme dedicated to this year’s World Oceans Day that is celebrated today throughout the world. It is an issue on which Italy is doubly committed: one the one hand, promoting the protection of marine areas and, on the other, combating plastic waste harmful to the marine environment and fauna. On the first front, Italy has now succeeded to protect 20% of its marine waters and, at the Rome Conference of March 2016, promoted the “10×20” initiative which aims to expand protection to 10% of the oceans by 2020. This initiative especially focuses on island states and is organised through several Cooperation projects implemented with the UNEP, IUCN and NGOs. At present, only 6.4% of global marine areas are protected. In June of Last year, Italy pledged 4 million euros at the UN Ocean Conference and organised an event on the fringes of the Conference, “Marine Protected Areas: a global call”, to illustrate the ”10×20” initiative. Other events also concerned the theme of food sustainability and Italy’s commitment in the food and wine sector through Slow Food, literacy programmes on oceans and the management of sea waste in the Mediterranean, considered to be a case of best practices.
There is also the issue of the plastic pollution of oceans, for which the 2018 budget bill includes important measures. As of 1 January of 2019, the production and distribution of cotton buds with plastic stems will be banned in Italy as well as any material that is not biodegradable and compostable. Furthermore, product wrappings will have to include instructions for the correct disposal of cotton buds, especially highlighting the prohibition to dispose of them in water closets or drains.
As of 1 January of 2020, it will also be prohibited to market washing, exfoliating or cleansing cosmetics containing microplastics. This is also the intention of the provisions that have been adopted during the past few years to significantly reduce the use of plastic bags. Italy is a member of the “Stop Plastic Waste” Coalition launched by France at the Climate Conference of Marrakech in November 2016 and in April 2017 it joined the Clean Seas global campaign launched within the framework of the United Nations Environment Programme.