02 Apr 2019

Venue: Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies | Maison de la Paix

Organization: Geneva Environment Network

This event was organised by Sustainability Week Switzerland, with the support of CIES, the Environmental Committee, GISA, les Etudiant-e-s pour le Développement Durable and the Graduate Institute.

The future of our oceans is in jeopardy. Economic development and the subsequent expanding use of plastic constitutes a major threat to the biodiversity of the ocean, the future of cities at low elevations, and the safety and security of millions of people around the globe. This discussion is an urgent conversation about the impact of marine plastic pollution, the current work addressing the issue, and possible avenues of solution.


Eirik Lindebjerg, Global Plastics Policy Manager, WWF
Kei Ohno Woodall, Programme Officer, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
Joao Sousa, Senior Program Officer, Marine Plastics, IUCN
Ambassador A.L.A. Azeez, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to UNO in Geneva

Moderation: Diana Rizzolio, Geneva Environment Network Coordinator, United Nations Environment Programme


The conference ‘Our Plastic Future; Can the Oceans Survive?’, as part of the Sustainability Week, sought to educate and motivate attendees about the current plastic crisis.

Céline Kahn, Master in MDev and Project coordinator, provided an introduction to the panel, emphasizing the opportunities it provided for students to raise their voices about current issues such as plastics in international Geneva.

The moderator, Diana Rizzolio from the United Nations Environmental Programme, set the scene on the current challenge facing the oceans today. She first gave the floor to Eirik Lindebjerg from WWF Oslo. He discussed the lack of an international binding agreement in tackling plastic issue as it is a global problem. Today, there is no global framework that addresses directly the issue. Kei Ohno-Woodall then of the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, examined the different action plans that were introduced during the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions from a national, regional and global policymaking. Following, Joao Sousa described some of the work from the IUCN in tackling the plastic issue on oceans. Lastly, we had the privilege to have the Ambassador of Sri Lanka, H.E. Azeez, who was able to explain the current plastic issue in Sri Lanka and the different policies put in place in his country. Sri Lanka has mobilized legal and policy framework in order to tackle plastic from a national level by taking into account international agreement.

Their discussions underlined the importance to find an international consensus and concrete actions in fighting plastic pollution to protect the marine ecosystems.

The event was attended by over 70 people, and also included a lively question and answer session navigating more of the nuances of plastic governance and the everyday impact audience members can have.



The event was live on Facebook.