MESPOM Alumna at INC 3 UN international plastics treaty

January 31, 2024

Hello everyone! I am Ginevra. I graduated from MESPOM in 2020 and chose the environmental science track in Manchester. During my undergraduate BA degree in European Studies I became passionate about environmental policy, but realized that environmental policy-makers often lack environmental scientific backgrounds. This led me to the application to MESPOM where coming from an environmental policy background I could bridge the gap and acquire the environmental scientific skills needed. MESPOM and its international environment helped me to look at global sustainability issues from a 360-degree angle. It allowed me to think like a policymaker, scientist and manager. Throughout MESPOM I developed a special interest for pollution topics, in particular the global complex problem of plastic pollution.

"coming from an environmental policy background I could bridge the gap and acquire the environmental scientific skills needed."

This is also what my current position as a PhD candidate at NTNU is about. I am researching on industrial plastic pollution prevention strategies from an operational management point of view. I am looking at the shipbuilding and fishing industries in Norway and how they impact through their operations on plastic ending up in the sea and what solutions are needed to prevent it. Through my previously acquired skills during MESPOM I was able to integrate an interdisciplinary approach to my research as I analyse the operations impact from a bottom-up approach. I am using analytical chemistry techniques for the microplastic impact during operations and relate it then to necessary management measures at company level, which then needs policy and regulation recommendations to establish a standardized management system for industries. This approach helped me to get a holistic understanding of the problem at hand by incorporating the science-industry-policy nexus.

In the week of 13-19 November, I attended the third negotiation round (INC 3) of the UN’s international plastic treaty in Nairobi, Kenya. The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) resolution 5/14 was adopted in 2022 where 175 countries came together and decided on an international legally binding agreement to end plastic pollution. The negotiations are expected to come to an end in 2024. I attended the negotiations as part of the Scientists' Coalition for an effective plastics treaty to provide scientific support to policy makers. The Scientists' Coalition is a group of over 300 independent scientists globally who produce scientific outputs to support policy makers to base their decisions on scientific evidence. A key takeaway of this event was to understand the complexity of reaching decisions involving so many different stakeholders, especially policy makers, not necessarily having enough expertise on the topic of negotiation. It was a great experience to be at INC 3 and see the process of international negotiations on the topic that I research on, but mostly it was exciting and enriching to be able to engage outside of academia and in this historic negotiation process.