Nordic embassies in Australia deepen dialogue on a potential global agreement to combat marine plastic pollution

Nordic embassies in Australia deepen dialogue on a potential global agreement to combat marine plastic pollution

On Tuesday, April 20, the Embassy of Denmark, the Embassy of Finland, the Embassy of Norway and the Embassy of Sweden, in collaboration with the ANU Centre for European Studies, hosted an event to deepen dialogue on international efforts to combat marine plastic pollution.

Marine plastic pollution is a major environmental problem. Combatting plastic litter is a priority for the Nordic governments acknowledging actions to address the problem must be taken regionally, nationally and globally.

UNSECO reports every year plastic litter causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals.

HE Satu Mattila-Budich presenting opening remarks at Tuesday’s event. Image: Adam Spence/ANU

Ambassador of Finland to Australia, Satu Mattila-Budich opened the proceedings stating, ‘We need to rethink how we produce and use plastic products. Moreover, we need to build better systems for waste management to ensure that plastics do not end up in the environment. We need to apply a circular economy approach, and address all stages of plastics’ life-cycle’.

The Nordic Council of Ministers for the Environment and Climate Change have called for a global agreement combatting marine plastic litter and commissioned a report on possible elements of a global agreement.

The report’s lead author and keynote speaker at Tuesday’s event, Dr Karen Raubenheimer, joined by a panel of experts, discussed the benefits of a global agreement.

‘The key outcome of the agreement would be to add value to plastic waste through improved design. This would further incentivise collection, investment by the private sector in waste management services and generate jobs’ mentioned Dr Raubenheimer.

The expert panel included coral reef specialist and environmental ecologist, Dr Jennie Mallela, leading environmental and public policy lawyer Professor Andrew Macintosh and materials engineer, and Deputy Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, Professor Nick Birbilis.

Dr Jennie Mallela speaking to the audience at the Australian National University. Image: Adam Spence/ANU