GUARDIANI DELLA COSTA – GUARDIANS OF THE COAST
Plastic pollution is damaging our planet globally but can be tackled if people come together, locally, to connect with their local environment and act together to stem the tide of waste.
We live in a global world in which the global production of plastics continues to rise along with our appetite for, and tendency to throw away, plastic goods. With huge chunks of the world population living, working and holidaying along coastlines, we face an unprecedented tidal wave of plastic waste outside our front doors.
This tidal wave of litter does not remain local. Because of the synthetic qualities, the buoyancy and the resilience of plastic, currents and winds at sea are spreading it worldwide. Plastic debris is not only changing the face of our coastlines at home, it is plaguing oceans and shores around the world.
While it is true that marine debris is a global problem, recent studies have also shown that the most efficient way to tackle it is to act locally. From schoolchildren studying plastic pollution in the local community to encouraging behavioural change in local populations, there is widespread agreement that citizen science is the way forward.
This concept of environmental citizenship is an integral part of the strong third sector which has emerged at a time in which globalization is changing the structure of society.
Cross-sector partnerships are forming to tackle the many environmental challenges we face. With the vital backing of Costa Crociere, voluntary and non-profit institutions are able to harness the worldwide information revolution to create new forms of social participation and tackle global issues which the government alone cannot solve.
Digital technology will be harnessed to help local teachers and schoolchildren become active environmental citizens, connecting with projects which will benefit the 7,500km of Italian coastline and the many species living along and within it.
By making young people and their educators more knowledgeable about the natural world and more aware of the problems the eco-system faces, they will be more equipped and inspired to play an active role in protecting it.
Networks of citizen scientists, big and small, have a vital role to play in scientific research and this project is about getting them together, from experts to enthusiastic beginners, involving them in advancing research, building solutions, and sharing insights for a common goal: to crowd-source the conservation of Italy’s coastlines.
Upper secondary pupils in schools throughout Italy will be given the chance to join the fight against beach litter and marine pollution.
On joining the Guardians of the Coast programme, schoolchildren will enter a dedicated online world of scientifically-rigorous webcasts, video-tutorials and information files which will ignite, or deepen, a natural curiosity in the local marine environment, coastal biodiversity, and the problems both now face because of pollution and climate change.
At the same time, teachers will be offered workshops and online modules, as well as field monitoring kits for the subsequent hands-on experience with pupils.
Together, they will take their scientific understanding out of the classroom and into the field, to monitor an adopted stretch of the Italian coastline and feed data and images collected – on environmental quality indicators, key beach characteristics and local socio-economic factors – into a central database using a free app for Android and iOs devices. They will be assisted in their surveys by a data portal of archive images helping them to recognize coastal vegetation and marine life.
A team of scientific experts will then validate all information collected and make it available in an open-source, collaborative database. This key resource will then form the basis of theme-based maps describing the state of Italy’s coastlines, from the perspective of the very people on the pollution frontline: the Guardians of the Coast.
To help the wider community to feel similarly connected to the environment and ultimately, to act more responsibly towards it, it is also vital that this knowledge is shared on a large scale. The Guardians of the Coast project will therefore wind up with a high-profile national event presenting the final results to the public.