The Global Litter Observatory (GLO) meets the need of harmonizing and compiling the information generated by the numerous initiatives to characterize macro-litter over the world. GLO relies (i) on citizenship as a major global force for litter monitoring, and (ii) on the adoption of the mass-based metric to allow comparability among datasets, an important weakness in the current evaluation systems. The possibility of implementing such mass-based measuring tool in mobile phones will give wide room for a more effective citizen participation in global monitoring as well as ease the flow and analysis of information through digital data sharing.

The increasing visibility of the litter pollution issue has triggered a wave of cleanup initiatives and research surveys. Both civil society networks and research institutions are generating important information on nature and abundance of the litter. The main objective of the GLO is to add value to the vast flow of information on litter pollution by means of the improvement of its comparability, quantitative character, and accessibility. GLO is a bottom-up programme addressed to provide the necessary global empirical support to the management strategy of the litter problem.

GLO aims to take action to address one of the biggest challenges of the Oceans Decade by stimulating and enriching the activity around the problem of ocean litter pollution through:

(i) a harmonized and quantitative database for litter on a comparable mass load basis;

(ii) a comprehensive digital representation of the ocean litter pollution, which provides free and open access for sharing, scrutiny and continuous improvement of the GLO products; 

(ii) a continuous service of updating and improving the database, which is compiled at different processing levels (from raw measurements and mass-converted data to top polluting items, maps and trends) in order to accommodate the needs of different stakeholders, from citizens to policy makers and researchers. 

SPONSORED BY THE UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030