Legal and Policy Frameworks to Address Marine Litter Through Improved Livelihoods

Publication Name

The African Marine Litter Outlook


This chapter provides an overview of the international and regional legal and policy frameworks relevant to the prevention and management of marine litter. These instruments set the obligations and guidance for national action of participating countries. Legal and policy responses by governments provide an opportunity to address the many drivers of marine litter across the life cycle, from the design of products to the management of the waste they generate. Public awareness, consumer behaviour and industry engagement also play key roles in preventing marine litter. These interventions alone remain voluntary, fragmented and insufficient to tackle the marine litter problem. The national and/or regional responsibility of parties to prevent marine litter as established by these frameworks is not unique to the countries of Africa, and many of the barriers to effective compliance are shared with developing countries in other regions. The social context in which national implementation measures must operate can be unique to countries or regions. This chapter summarises the duties established by the legal and policy frameworks at the international and regional levels that may be applied to the issue of marine litter. It provides an African context to the barriers and drivers of effective implementation of national measures in compliance with international obligations. The scope of this chapter extends beyond the responsibility to prevent marine pollution, to establish a holistic and integrated duty of governments to provide a healthy environment and sustainable livelihoods as recognised in the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The review of these international, regional and national legal and policy frameworks therefore considers the inclusion of these broader principles to underpin prevention and management of marine litter.

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