UN Ocean Conference 2022: How will the Global Plastics Treaty actually work?

International conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London) is standing with NGOs, academic institutions and businesses from around the world to showcase tried and tested, practical, science-based solutions to the plastic pollution crisis, to help inform the Global Plastics Treaty – dubbed the Paris Agreement for plastics - at the upcoming 2022 UN Ocean Conference.

Plastic pollution on the beach in the Philippines

ZSL is hosting an official side event at the Conference called Putting theory into practice: systems change as a tool for tackling ocean plastic pollution at source on Thursday 30th June, 8am during the global conference in Lisbon. They will be bringing together a raft of ocean conservation scientists and environmental experts to ‘put theory into practice’ and discuss how systems change can be used as a tool for tackling ocean plastic pollution. 

Led by ZSL with partners #OneLess, International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), Patagonia and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (CGF), the session will be held as part of #SeatheFuture, at the conference.

An in-depth discussion, experts in the field of ocean conservation, sustainability and environmentalism will talk about the real-life approaches and innovations that they know to have worked to reduce plastic pollution- from the source to offshore locations - across the world. 

Plastic pollution is one of the most significant and growing threats to ocean health, and there is increasing recognition that no single solution will solve this issue. The latest science shows that system change from government through to community level is the best route to fundamentally clear up the plastics crisis, yet there is low awareness of what is actually needed to turn this theory into practice. 

Panellists include Professor Heather Koldewey, senior technical specialist at ZSL, marine biologist and lead for Bertarelli Foundation’s Marine Science Programme, Hugo Tagholm, Co-Founder and Chief Executive at Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), Gabe Davies, Ocean Marketing Manager at Patagonia and Louisa Hooper, Director, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation UK (CGF).

On the event, Professor Heather Koldewey said: “ZSL and the partners involved in these talks have years of ocean health and conservation experience between us. As a marine biologist, I have seen first-hand the damage that is caused by plastic pollution and have also seen some of the innovative ways that we could help to tackle it. It is exciting to be able to showcase some of our ideas to policy makers and Government representatives attending the UN Oceans Conference, and try to help make the Global Plastics Treaty a success.

“I am also delighted to be bringing some of the best up and coming ocean scientists from developing countries to bring their voices into this global policy event, recognise their invaluable work and ideas, and champion their expertise.”

On Tuesday 28 June entitled, Our Ocean Future: Empowering the next generation of Ocean Leaders, the Bertarelli Foundation alongside ZSL and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission-UNESCO (who coordinate the UN Ocean Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development), will host a panel of ocean leaders and ocean youth to discuss how to accelerate support for young people from the Global South building careers in marine science, policy, and conservation.

Experts Dr Asha De Vos of Oceanswell, Angelique Pouponneau of the UN Decade of Ocean Science Board and Prof Rashid Sumaila of the University of British Columbia, will be talking to young, up and coming ocean scientists who will talk to their audience about building capacity within the field and making ocean science accessible for everyone.

As we approach a landmark season for our ocean, with international conferences such as the UN Ocean Conference putting a much-needed spotlight on the big issues impacting biodiversity, ZSL is calling for world leaders to put nature at the heart of all global decision making. You can support ZSL global science and conservation work and find out more here

Links to both events below:

  • Thursday 30 June, 8am: Putting theory into practice: systems change as a tool for tackling ocean plastic pollution at source, here. Unfortunately, this will not be streamed live.
  • Tuesday 28 June, 8.30am: Empowering the Next Generation of Ocean Leaders, here. A recording will be available afterwards.

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