Coastal waters are often a repository for a wide range of urban, agricultural, and industrial wastes. Coastal pollution caused by land-based activities is one of the most serious threats to the world’s large marine ecosystems (LMEs), human health and economic prosperity. Today, 44 percent of the world’s population lives within 150 km of a coastline, and two-thirds of the planet’s largest cities are located in low-lying coastal areas. Read more+
Assuming that urbanization and demographic trends continue, the anthropogenic impact on coastal ecosystems will increase dramatically as the world’s population grows from 6.8 billion to an estimated 9.2 billion by 2050. The predicted increased in the frequency and intensity of storm events associated with climate change will further heighten the risk of coastal water contamination and deteriorate the natural resources that many countries depend on for food security and economic growth.
One of the most alarming signs of the negative effects of land-based sources of pollution on marine environments is the rising number of ‘dead zones’ occurring throughout the world’s oceans. The number of dead zones has doubled in each of the last four decades: approximately 500 dead zones have been officially identified and this number is expected to rise as the oceans warm.
What We Do
The GEF recognizes that efforts targeted at prevention, reduction and control of coastal pollution caused by land-based activities are crucial to maintaining the ecological, social, and economic well-being of countries situated along the coasts of the world’s LMEs. The threat from nutrient pollution to coastal zones has historically been one of the priorities within the International Waters (IW) focal area, with a total investment to date of US$422 million leveraging a total of US$4.64 billion from other partners. Read more+
The multitude of point and non-point sources of pollution, their predominantly transboundary origins, and the fact that tides and currents can carry pollutants vast distances combine to make coastal pollution a complex management issue. The IW focal area will continue to support investments to tackle the land-based sources of pollution challenge through a ‘ridge to reef’/”Source to Sea” management approach that is focusing on integrated and ecosystem-based investments operating across multiple sectors, borders and scales.
Over the past decades, the GEF has supported several projects to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in some of the world’s most vulnerable water systems — from the Black Sea and Danube Basin to the Mediterranean Sea.
Exciting new projects include the development of man-made wetlands that can mimic nature by filtering and consuming potential pollutants in the wastewater stream. This low-cost technology offers real potential to reduce nutrient pollution, while also reclaiming wastewater for application in agriculture and aquaculture. Because it has lower running costs than conventional wastewater treatment systems, this technology can be ideal for developing countries, particularly in rural areas. Read more+
The Agricultural Pollution Control Project in Călărași, Romania improved the health and economic situation of 26,700 farmers by introducing nonpoint pollution control devices and best practices, particularly on-farm and communal platforms to control pollution run-off from manure. Over a 2.5 year period, the project resulted in a 28 percent drop in levels of nitrate in drinking water. This substantially reduced the risk of blue baby syndrome due to acute nitrate poisoning. This project successfully demonstrated innovations and catalyzed scaling up at national level in another 86 nutrient vulnerable zones, which was essential in order for Romania to meet international drinking water standards, as well as the EU Nitrate Directive.