The GCRF Plastics Pollution Governance Framework Network

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nairobi
Department Name: Studies in Environmental Law & Policy

Abstract

This network will focus on regulatory frameworks for plastics pollution globally and how they can inform its governance in six DAC countries, i.e. Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Plastics pollution involves the accumulation of plastic debris (micro, meso or macro) in the environment that adversely affects humans. While plastics pollution has risen rapidly up the scale of global environmental concerns, its gravity to ill health related to air, water and soil pollution has not been captured in relevant policies in the six and many other DAC listed countries. A comprehensive attempt to address this will require an interdisciplinary approach using basic and applied research as well as entrepreneurial innovation. In order to keep pace with environmental pollution as well as changes in policy, technology, and culture, there is a need to build partnerships with people and organizations that are deeply embedded in all facets of the issue. Learning from innovative circular approaches and new governance forms elsewhere, our network will create a fabric of contacts who will provide support, feedback, insight, resources, and information on how to best govern plastics pollution in DAC list countries and contextualize for the six eastern African countries. Harnessing the knowledge and ideas of multiple experts will highlight important research questions and help focus attention on areas considered to be issues of immediate importance for effective governance. Hence, the network will be set across various spatial and temporal scales that involve a series of individuals, institutions, disciplines, industry and the informal sector to: (a) Share knowledge, research, education and training input on types, process, consequences and interventions in plastic pollution; (b) Provide a forum for coordination and dialogue among academics, researchers, policy makers and practitioners from the plastic pollution governance community with a view to advance activities related to the management of plastic pollution in the DAC countries, while identifying and responding to challenges and opportunities; (c) Advise and support teaching and capacity building programs in the DAC countries on best practices in plastic pollution governance; (d) Bring to the attention of DAC countries state-of-the-art research and academic trends on global plastic pollution management, or write white papers on any of related topics, and also offer training/ education in this field; (e) Create a platform for members to share key problems and areas of research that are of high interest to local, national and regional organizations within DAC countries; (f) Address governance, data management, institutional, technology adoption and sustainability issues related to the management of plastic pollution; (g) Undertake measures in plastic pollution management that are able to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN and other global (e.g. Aichi Targets) and regional (e.g. African Union Agenda 2063) goals as appropriate; (h) Undertake activities that foster collaboration between universities and research groups at an international level, including to identify and address common research topics and overarching trends; and (i) Promote and encourage close collaboration between knowledge communities and their national counterparts concerned with plastic pollution governance. As a means to capture and include the role and contributions of scholars and practitioners in global plastics pollution management, we have identified a list of 'champions' who will provide strategic knowledge, research, training and case study experiences to assist in generating governance ideas. These champions will snowball the Network around globally and, in the DAC, listed countries through the networking activities. This will be achieved through a variety of strategies including workshops, Round Tables, mainstream and social media, and 'virtual' networking events.

Planned Impact

Impact on society and the economy will be achieved by the involvement of and dissemination to stakeholders in the plastics and waste industry, government (local and central) and advocacy groups and NGOs in combination with academics. Support has already been sought from organisations and to date includes: the Kenyan Association of Manufacturers, Client Earth, the Product Life Institute, UK Environmental Law Association, UN Environment, The Ocean Foundation amongst others. Starting with this core of activists, the project will build the network and establish clear channels of communication to build a firm foundation for future growth and a clear pathway to impact in terms of meeting the global health challenge posed by the extensive use of plastics. Impact will be achieved by inclusion of key stakeholders in the network which, in the 2 years of the project, will be the primary pathway to impact. The work of the project is to build the network by bringing key players into membership so that channels of communication are opened within and across nations and regions. Key aspects of the work of the Network Director and Co-Director will be to engage key stakeholders facilitated by the Network Manager.
Policy engagement
Our network will have at its heart partnerships with stakeholders which will give us real-life examples to work on and which will also provide access to these organisations' networks of policy contacts. We plan targeted publications including policy briefings, industry journal articles and on-line materials on our website which present our findings in a format that is accessible to policy-makers. We will seek to use the network to provide advisory roles, such as contributing to government inquiries, reports, panels and committees. We see the network as developing on a snowball basis with a membership structure providing support and advice to members in terms of their engagement in policy initiatives.
Public engagement
The general public is an important group to engage with as the ultimate actors to eliminate plastics waste. Through their behaviours such as consumer choice, waste management, and political voice, individuals have a vital role on the uptake and implementation of any intervention. Consequently, the general public will be integrated in our project throughout, from incorporating their perspectives (e.g. as participants in research) to keeping them informed. We will do this by using social media to advertise the work of the project and setting up a Facebook page. Schools and local colleges will be integrated into the project so as to engage young people.
Academic impact will be achieved through multidisciplinary team working alongside other non-academic stakeholders that will achieve excellence in relation to the advances in understanding, method, theory and application in dealing with the challenge of plastics across and within disciplines. Surrey's Special Interest Group (SIG) on Plastics in the Environment led by network member and 'champion' Professor Richard Murphy will support the project disseminating results and information using its media, academic, professional and industrial contacts to maximise impact.The Sustainability Strategic Research Theme and Plastics SIG will fully support the GCRF Plastics Pollution Governance Framework Network. As part of this the Theme/Plastics SIG is committed to assisting the
Network via co-funding (up to £7,500 in the university's financial years 2018/19 and 2019/20) in order to
support and facilitate the Network's workshops, seminars and staff exchanges.

Publications

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