Request for proposals: Reducing ocean plastic pollution

For more information and to apply, visit the National Geographic Society web site.

More than 9 million tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans each year, with alarming implications for the health of people, wildlife, and ecosystems. Eighty percent of this plastic is believed to be derived from land-based sources, and much of this plastic enters the ocean via major rivers in Asia and Africa. This RFP is directed at reducing plastic pollution at the source, both by reducing per capita plastic consumption and reducing the flow of plastics into watersheds.

Please note that July 10, 2019 will be the last deadline  for the RFP focus areas described below.


We seek to fund sustainable and potentially scalable projects to reduce ocean plastic pollution that are closely aligned with one or both of the following goals:

  • Informing and advancing national or subnational policies or management plans to reduce plastic source pollution. This encompasses research to inform government strategies, such as generating knowledge that would enable reducing the flow of plastic into waterways; informing the development of national/subnational product or materials bans; and other relevant work. Research applications in this area are strongly encouraged to include a government official on the project team, have an endorsement letter from a relevant government office, and/or have a project component in which government stakeholders will be robustly engaged to advance the integration of data into decision-making.
  • Innovative behavior change approaches with the potential to inspire large numbers of people to dramatically reduce their consumption of single-use plastics and/or improve the recycling of plastic.

Geographic priorities include known hot spots that contribute most to the ocean plastic pollution problem (e.g., coastal cities in China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam; and the watersheds of the Yangtze, Indus, Yellow, Hai, Nile, Ganges, Pearl, Amur, Niger, and Mekong rivers) or which fill key gaps in geography (e.g., major river basins and coastal cities in Africa).

We are particularly interested in proposals that generate one or more of the following outputs or outcomes:

  • Policy memos/briefs, white papers, policy analyses, and/or government reports
  • In-person presentations, meetings, and/or workshops made to policymakers
  • Training or education of individuals, including community members, students, and educators, in targeted areas
  • Changes in knowledge and/or attitudes and/or behaviors related to plastic pollution

This opportunity is open to conservationists, educators, researchers, storytellers, and technologists.

Proposals will be evaluated based on alignment to the focus of this RFP, expected impact, and cost-effectiveness. Successful applicants may use awarded funds over one or two years.

Applicants may request up to $60,000 to support costs directly required to complete the proposed project. Please see the Preparing Your Proposal page regarding budgetary guidance.

All applications should include a clear review of the state of knowledge about the topic and a plan for evaluating the outcomes of the proposed work. Preference will be given to applicants who are citizens or residents of the country where the work will be conducted. When applying for this RFP, please select “Changing Planet” in the Lens dropdown menu on the Project Description tab of the application.

This RFP does not provide funding for beach cleanups; end-of-life plastic recycling, valorization, or reuse; commercializing waste management technologies; or the development of plastic alternatives.

Applicants must complete the National Geographic Society grant application form and comply with all applicable requirements to be eligible for consideration. Approval of projects to take place in China is contingent upon the National Geographic Society receiving authorization from the Chinese government to fund such projects.

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