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The Environment 2017/18 - Annual Review

It must surely be a collective responsibility for our generation to ensure that our children, grandchildren, and their children inherit a planet that can sustain them.”

HRH The Prince Of Wales speaking at
a reception for the Crop Trust

The Environment

Plastic Waste

Building on His Royal Highness’s long held concern about the volume of plastic waste that is entering the marine environment, The Prince of Wales and his International Sustainability Unity (ISU) continued its efforts to build a consensus among the academic, private and NGO communities at a global, national and local scale. As part of this, in May 2017 the ISU, with The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, launched the $2 million New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize. The Prize which is funded by Wendy Schmidt as Lead Philanthropic Partner of the New Plastics Economy Initiative, called for innovators, designers, scientists and entrepreneurs to help create packaging that keeps plastics out of the ocean. In addition, in July 2017 the ISU helped to launch the African Marine Waste Network to help coordinate and draw attention to solutions in Africa for keeping plastic waste out of the ocean. And, at a landmark event, in January 2018, the ISU hosted a high level meeting “Keeping Plastics and their value in the Economy and out of the Ocean“, which included, among others, the CEOs and senior representatives from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, PepsiCo UK, and Sky Ocean Ventures Fund. This meeting cemented the commitment of the participants to work together to develop a circular economy and to drastically reduce the use of plastics.

I am beginning to find some encouragement from the fact that a more integrated and joined-up approach is starting to unfold, with real leadership being shown by many individuals who are placing their intellectual, organizational, political and, indeed, financial capital into fostering integrated and collaborative efforts.”

HRH The Prince of Wales
speaking at the ISU Meeting

Coral Reef Conference

In addition to the work on launching the Coral Reef Declaration, and in recognition that 2018 is the International Year of the Reef, as designated by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), the ISU convened major stakeholders from the private, public, NGO, media and academic sectors from around world to help launch The Year of the Reef and to build consensus on the urgency of scaling up resilience and recovery of the world’s coral reefs. This meeting, at which His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales gave the key note speech and which was attended by His Royal Highness Prince Harry attracted significant media coverage and successfully highlighted the plight of the world’s reefs.

In addition, the ISU has commissioned work on highlighting the economic drivers behind coral reef degradation and the investments required to ensure the long-term health of these vital marine habitats. This work will be used as the template to catalyse new impetus for finding long-term solutions in which the private sector plays a central role.

The Ocean has an astonishing ability to heal itself if given the chance. So Ladies and Gentlemen, we simply have to give it that chance, perhaps its last, for we must not only conserve what remains of these unique and vitally important ecosystems, but we must also allow Nature to restore what has already been lost.”

The Prince of wales speaking at the conference

Sustainable Cotton

During the year, the ISU worked in collaboration with Marks and Spencer and The Soil Association to convene leading companies and various ‘standards’ organisations to discuss how to reduce the negative environmental and social impacts that are all too often associated with cotton production. There have been substantial gains made over the past few years in scaling the production of more sustainable forms of cotton, with production higher than ever before. However, companies are still only actively sourcing less than a fifth of more sustainable material. To correct this disparity and encourage more companies to procure more sustainable cotton, in May 2017 the ISU hosted alongside M&S and The Soil Association a high-level meeting, attended by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, to launch the Sustainable Cotton Communiqué, which commits companies to using 100% sustainable cotton by 2025. Almost 40 companies have now signed up to the commitment, and the new Secretariat of the initiative, Textile Exchange, hopes to bring this number to over 100 over by 2020.

Highlights 2017/18