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Governance solutions to the 'tragedy' of marine plastics


Vince, JZ, Governance solutions to the 'tragedy' of marine plastics, Marine Debris Forum, 27 September, Tainan, Taiwan (2018) [Conference Extract]

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An estimated 6-12 million tonnes of plastic enters the oceans annually. It is so wide spread that macroplastics, microplastics, and nanoplastics have been found in the most remote ocean areas and at enormous depths. Consequently, marine plastic pollution has become the new millennium's tragedy of the ocean commons, a complex collective action problem with dire ecological and social consequences. There is long-standing acknowledgement of the difficulty in managing the commons through different forms of governance that include regulation, economic and market-based instruments, and community-based solutions. I examine the numerous opportunities and challenges with current approaches to plastic marine debris governance on global, national and local levels. On the global level, intergenerational justice matters, and food security and biodiversity impacts are relevant for human and ecosystem health. A new legally binding global instrument is an important solution, however, it will be a complex process that will take time to be fully developed and implemented. On national and local governance levels, incentives and bans vary in their effectiveness to reduce plastic pollution. Community initiatives, education, and consumers' ability to give or withhold social license to operate can steer cultural and behavioral change in the way plastics are utilised. Self-regulatory measures in the private sector through tools such as corporate or environmental social responsibility or third party certification can influence change in the market. I argue that while plastic pollution is a tragedy, it is not impossible to overcome. Effective prevention of plastic debris is a long-term, holistic process that must begin at the ground level with smarter consumer choices, industrial consciousness and responsibility, and an overarching local to global governance framework.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Keywords:plastic pollution, marine debris, governance
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Policy and administration
Research Field:Public policy
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems
UTAS Author:Vince, JZ (Associate Professor Joanna Vince)
ID Code:135093
Year Published:2018
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2019-09-27
Last Modified:2019-10-03

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