Ocean Plastic and Ocean Waste

When? 3pm CEST Thursday 23 June

Where? Regsiter for this class on Zoom using this link – https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUvduurrD0uHNYFFLkrs2Lg2nTDKPD7iQmd

This panel will discuss and explore questions and case studies related to the complex and under-regulated problem of ocean plastic and waste.

The ocean problem is a complicated one for a number of reasons:

  • The sheer scale of the quantity of waste that has entered the ocean in the past five decades along with the scale of the receiving environment makes management and clean up of the existing ocean plastic and waste extremely challenging. This coupled with the fact that much of the impacted environment – the oceans – fall outside of state jurisdiction, complicates the question of responsibility for the costs and work involved in addressing ocean waste. Add to this, recent discoveries that floating masses of plastic have become habitats to sea life, which raises questions about what ocean waste management should look like and whether waste removal should always be the goal. This all suggests the need for international cooperation and the development of international law standards, a process that has begun with UNEA’s adoption of the End Plastic Pollution resolution in March this year.
  • While plastic and waste make its way into the ocean, beyond state jurisdiction, suggesting the need for international solutions, plastic waste originates on land and addressing this demands national level solutions. However, poor regulation and infrastructure in regard to waste management is a problem for countries across the globe. The quantity of waste generated each year far exceeds the capacity of many states to collect, process and store it and only a small percentage of plastic waste is recycled.
  • Communities with the least freedom and choice to manage their generation of plastic waste are denied access to facilities to manage that waste. Economic drivers often push those most affected by plastic waste – including small scale fishers – to make use of cheap, disposable, single-use or quick-wearing plastic products. At the same time, lack of waste management and collection in impoverished communities has immediate and deleterious effects on environmental health and water quality, and on the ability of small scale and sustenance fishers to fish.

This panel will examine the complexity of regulatory, policy and scientific responses to the problem of ocean plastic and waste, at different and intersecting geographic scales. This panel will provide important insights into the full picture of the problem of ocean waste, including through presentations on international efforts at a global treaty and discussions of local case studies of community activism.


Dr Cressida Bowyer

Cressida Bowyer is a Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Science and Health and the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries at the University of Portsmouth, and Deputy Lead for the University’s Revolution Plastics initiative. A biological scientist by training and having previously worked in the arts, the primary purpose of her research is to address global problems such as air quality and plastic pollution, using transdisciplinary and participatory methodologies. Cressida often uses creative methods, such as music, digital storytelling, puppetry and visual arts, to engage communities and find solutions to global issues in line with  United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Professor Steve Fletcher

Professor Malcolm Hudson

Malcolm Hudson is an Associate Professor in Environmental Sciences within Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Southampton. He is an applied ecologist working on interdisciplinary projects with a focus on the interactions between humans and natural systems. He leads the university’s plastic pollution research network and carries out research on microplastics in the environment.

Professor Elisa Morgera

Prof Elisa Morgera specializes in international biodiversity law and its linkages with human rights, notably the rights of indigenous peoples and small-scale fishing communities, everyone’s right to health and science, and business responsibility to respect human rights. She is the director of the One Ocean Hub, a global inter-disciplinary research collaboration of research institutions in the UK, Africa, South Pacific and the Caribbean, as well as UN agencies and other international partners. The One Ocean Hub is pioneering research on human rights and the marine environment with a view to better connecting marine and social sciences, and the arts, to support fair and inclusive decision-making for a healthy ocean whereby people and planet flourish.

Catalina Pizarro Tapia

Catalina is an Associate Legal Officer at UNEP and a Chilean environmental lawyer, holding an LLM on environmental law and climate change from the University of Edinburgh. She has worked in the UN Environment Programme for the last five years with a focus on intergovernmental negotiations. Before joining UNEP, she worked in a law firm in Chile.



https://viewer.joomag.com/solve-magazine-issue-03-2021/0451007001630041161/p12?short& (p12-17)


https://www.port.ac.uk/news-events-and-blogs/podcasts/life-solved#two – Series 2, ep1 & Series 8, ep70

What are marine litter and plastic pollution? https://oneoceanhub.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Information-sheet_1.pdf

International legal responses to ocean plastics: https://oneoceanhub.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Information-sheet_2.pdf

Marine plastic pollution as an environmental injustice issue: https://oneoceanhub.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Information-sheet_2.pdf

Human rights impacts of ocean plastic: https://oneoceanhub.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Information-sheet_5_.pdf

Children’s human rights and ocean plastic: https://oneoceanhub.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Information-sheet_6.pdf

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