The Commonwealth meeting in London is generating a number of important agreements and initiatives. Spearheaded by the Prime Minister and the environment ministers this is a major push to invigorate and restore links with our former partners. Three items:

1.  Commonwealth unites to end scourge of plastic

Countries from across the Commonwealth have today pledged to eliminate avoidable single use plastic in an ambitious bid to clean up the world’s oceans. Prime Minister Theresa May announced today that New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Ghana have joined the UK and Vanuatu-led Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance – an agreement between member states to join forces in the fight against plastic pollution. Britain, together with CCOA joint chair Vanuatu, will call on other countries to pledge action on plastics, be this by a ban on microbeads, a commitment to cutting down on single use plastic bags, or other steps to eliminate avoidable plastic waste. To drive this forward, the Prime Minister has also announced a £61.4 million package of funding to boost global research and help countries across the Commonwealth stop plastic waste from entering the oceans in the first place. Click here to read more

2.  UK pledges protection for corals

The UK has joined a global battle to safeguard the world’s coral reefs from climate change and rising sea temperatures, Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey announced today. International work to protect these vital marine habitats is gathering momentum as coral reefs come under increasing pressure from climate change and human activity – and today the UK officially joined the Coral Reef Life Declaration, committing to safeguard coral reefs and bolster scientific research into the threats they face. The announcement comes just one week ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, where member states will gather in London to agree further global measures to protect our oceans. From Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef, to 8,000 year-old cold-waters corals off the coast of the UK, the countries of the Commonwealth account for nearly half the world’s coral reefs – and over 250 million people across the Commonwealth depend directly on coral reefs for food and income. Click here to read more

3.  Our Commonwealth Ocean – Defra’s bespoke education pack for teachers.

The pack was launched this morning by Minister Thérèse Coffey, during the Our Commonwealth Ocean marine science event, at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton. Our Commonwealth Ocean education pack was written by the Marine Biological Association (MBA) and National Marine Aquarium (NMA) and designed in collaboration with the British Council in support of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), taking place 16-20 April in London and Windsor. CHOGM has four key themes: fairness, prosperity, security and sustainability. Protection of our ocean is a key theme of the sustainability pillar. This education pack aims to encourage Commonwealth school children to understand the vital role oceans play in our environment, economy and society, and help ensure they can communicate about the ocean in a meaningful way, and make informed and responsible decisions regarding our oceans. The pack is in two sections: ocean literacy principles and teacher resources. You can find the pack and accompanying downloadable poster on the Times Education Supplement resources section.

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