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Marine Debris Dialogues

Amidst a sea of multi-stakeholder platforms working to address marine debris, Meridian brought fresh momentum and crucial trust-building to the problem of safeguarding our ocean environments.

Images of plastic bottles on beaches and turtles entangled in six-pack rings increasingly flood our screens. Today, the international community recognizes the marine debris crisis—however, despite concerted attention and effort, we remain far from curbing plastic pollution. Marine debris is a complex problem, which is exactly why Meridian dove in to help achieve real change to protect our oceans.

The challenge, in this case, was not a lack of collaboration. Many multi-stakeholder platforms focus on combating marine debris. Through interviews and landscape mapping, we realized that across these efforts a critical ingredient of success was missing: trust. Time and time again, we heard that attempts at cross-sectoral collaboration were greatly hindered because partners could not be counted on to respect each other’s efforts.

Meridian was uniquely positioned to make a difference: we had the relationships to bring the right people together, combined with the objectivity sought by industry leaders and environmentalists. While we were not neutral about wanting to curb plastic pollution, we could provide a safe setting for everyone through our facilitation. We could help both sides navigate the risks—and reap the rewards—of collaboration.

Meridian organized a meeting with both industry and environmental organizations to identify areas for future coordination, creating an opportunity for leaders to speak honestly and listen openly. In facilitating discussions since then, including those at the Ocean Plastic Leadership Summit, we have observed progress toward newly forged trust and renewed, action-oriented partnership.