The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), the developer behind one of the world’s most ambitious tourism projects, has launched a program to clean-up ocean debris, becoming an official partner for the UN initiative #ACT4SDG’s. The announcement coincided with the annual International Coastal Clean-up hosted by Ocean Conservancy.
The Marine Debris Clean-up Program will combine efforts across TRSDC to remove any debris that washes up on the islands and mainland shorelines within the project’s focal marine areas, as well as educating the local population about waste disposal methods and how to reduce, recycle and reuse these materials.
“Marine debris is a global issue that is receiving increasing attention from the world’s media. We are taking steps to protect the pristine environment at our destination from the impact of marine debris. This initiative supports the local population with paid work and provides educational opportunities that highlight the importance of minimising the use of single use plastics and disposing of waste materials in a sustainable manner,” said John Pagano, CEO of TRSDC.
“We are working to protect and enhance the natural ecosystems within our stunning destination, while seeking new and innovative ways to use recycled materials as a resource to generate new jobs and business opportunities for the people living in and around the region.”
The Global Week to #Act4SDGs, 20-30 September, rallies public support for the UN-endorsed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), connecting actions taking place in thousands of cities and communities across the globe while world-leaders gather in New York for five milestone UN Summits.
The program will support several SDGs including ‘Life Below Water’ and ‘Life on Land’ initially. As the program expands, it will also contribute towards ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’, ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’, ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’, ‘No Poverty’ and ‘Quality Education’.
“As part of #ACT4SDGs and in line with our desire to support Ocean Conservancy’s fight for trash-free seas, we are launching our Marine Debris Beach Clean Up Program on September 21st to coincide with International Coastal Clean Up Day,” said Dr Rusty Brainard, Chief Environment Officer at TRSDC.
“Marine debris is harmful to the environment and lethal for many organisms, which can become entangled in or ingest foreign materials that they encounter in their native habitat. The breakdown of plastic debris to microplastics, which enter the base of the food web, is also threatening human food supplies.”
Ocean Conservancy works with millions of volunteers of all ages, from all around the world, on a series of projects, and launched the International Coastal Clean-up more than 30 years ago.
“Our Marine Debris Beach Clean Up Program is a long-term undertaking including constant monitoring of environmental health and regular intervention across our 28,000 square kilometre site. We are also undertaking educational activities in partnership with leading academic institutions including King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the University of Tabuk with whom we recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding,” said Dr Brainard.
TRSDC has set several aspirational sustainability targets, including a 100 percent reliance on renewable energy, a total ban on single-use plastics and complete carbon neutrality in the destination’s operations, in a bid to protect, preserve and enhance the destination.
The ongoing partnership with KAUST is delivering initiatives including Brains for Brine, a technological innovation program that challenges academics, scientists, engineers and the wider water industry to develop new solutions to manage the disposal of brine, the waste product of water desalination, in a sustainable and commercially viable manner.
TRSDC also partnered with KAUST to pioneer the use of destination-scale marine spatial planning simulations as a sustainable development planning tool. The results of this collaboration shaped the design of the concept master plan, which now projects a net positive conservation benefit of up to 30 percent of current values over the next two decades compared to a ‘do nothing’ scenario. This is equivalent to designating the entire destination a Marine Protected Area.
The Red Sea Project, one of The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s three giga-project development initiatives, is developing a unique luxury tourism experience of unparalleled diversity, while enhancing the destination's extraordinary natural wonders. The Project embraces a diverse range of natural treasures: an archipelago of more than 90 islands surrounded by thriving coral reefs; dramatic desert canyons and dormant volcanoes; and intriguing archaeological sites.
Individuals or organisations keen to partner or participate in this program can find out more by visiting www.act4sdgs.org/partner/TheRedSeaProject.