Governing plastic pollution in the oceans: institutional challenges and areas for action

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Marine plastic pollution has emerged as a global threat to our oceans. Although several instruments have been developed at the international level, the global governance of marine plastic pollution is still affected by several weaknesses. The article explores some of these weaknesses and attempts to define areas for action: harmonisation of international laws; coherence across national policies; coordination of international organisations; and science-policy interaction. The article presents the problem of marine plastic pollution and focuses on the policy response in place at the international level. It discusses the problem of national implementation in a web of intertwined sectoral policies and analyses the organisational structure competent for marine affairs at the global level. The role of science advice as a coordinating mechanism is also investigated. While analysing these institutional challenges, the article delineates a policy agenda for the future governance of plastic pollution at the global scale.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-460
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Early online date29 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Plastic waste
  • marine pollution
  • global environmental governance
  • national implementation
  • coherence and coordination
  • science advice


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