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Addressing Marine Plastic Pollution

28 June 2022, Altice Arena, Lisbon, Portugal

How International Cooperation and Partnerships Across Science and Technology Can Build Capacities and Lead to Systems Innovation

IAEA Side Event at the 2022 UN Ocean Conference

The International Atomic Energy Agency is organising an official side event at the UN Ocean Conference 2022, in cooperation with the Circulate Initiative and the Incubation Network, to discuss actions to address marine plastic pollution.

The UN Ocean Conference 2022, co-hosted by the Governments of Kenya and Portugal, seeks to propel much needed science-based innovative solutions aimed at starting a new chapter of global ocean action.

Date and time

Tuesday, 28 June 2022, 11:30-12:45. (UTC+1)


Plastic pollution is one of today’s most pressing global environmental challenges and a direct threat to sustainable development. Emissions of plastic waste into aquatic ecosystems are projected to nearly triple by 2040 without meaningful action according to the United Nations Environment Programme (2021). This environmental issue transcends national boundaries and even with plastic monitoring in place, significant efforts and resources are required to establish a baseline for marine plastic pollution and to assess, characterize and understand the fate of marine plastic pollution with the ultimate goal of ensuring sustainable marine ecosystem health and human wellbeing.

Therefore, there is an urgent need for action and for scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of the UN sustainable development or other environmental goals. Synergistic partnership among UN agencies, Member states, NGOs, scientific institutions, and Funding Agencies is required.


The main objective of this event is to raise the need for coordinated global action against marine plastic pollution through a series of both high-level and scientific contributions. It is embedded in the context of an IAEA initiative launched in 2021 that builds on the Agency’s expertise in this area: NUclear TEChnology for Controlling Plastic Pollution (NUTEC Plastics).

To complement the IAEA efforts, other global initiatives will be presented during this side-event, such as the Incubation Network, an ambitious multi-stakeholder initiative supported by The Circulate Initiative and SeconMuse in 2019, which seeks to reduce ocean plastic pollution and to improve the livelihoods of people working in waste management and recycling systems. The project has created a connected network of key stakeholdersacross the private, public and government sectors to source, scale and support innovative solutions that can significantly contribute to these goals. 

The event also aims at highlighting how research and technology, innovation and international cooperation can contribute to scaling up local and regional action to tackle marine plastic pollution, especially for issues related to smaller plastic particles, known as microplastics, for which ocean pollution is currently underestimated, and the fate of which is poorly understood. Speakers will share stories and lessons learned from their initiatives and will try to show how meaningful change requires multisectoral engagement and to target systems levers.  

This 75 minutes side-event will be organized as a dialogue and will allow the identification of means for scaling up specific action.

Contribution to the Conference

This side event directly aligns with the theme of the Conference and addresses the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 14.1 “By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution” and touches on another SDG 14 targets (14.a. Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, …).

List of speakers

A panel of representatives of Member States, international organisations, non-governmental organisations, Funding Agencies and renownedinstitutions will take part in this side-event. This list is subject to changes:

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