What are the economic and political forces driving the expanding global plastic economy?

Summary

Numerous calls for international action have been stirred by the scale and impacts of plastic pollution on the world’s oceans and marine ecosystems. Growing scientific evidence of both the environmental and health challenges presented by microplastics has widened the scope of policy discussion to ‘plastic pollution’. Hence, there is an increasing consideration of the social, health and fiscal impacts of plastic pollution on land, including in developing countries struggling to manage a rising tide of plastic waste. And yet, there is little attention among scholars or policy analysts to the strong economic and political forces that drive the expanding global plastics economy.

This multi-disciplinary, collaborative project aims to answer the following questions:

– What is the global political economy of growing plastic pollution?

– What is the lifecycle of plastic production and pollution?

– What could be the impact of economic instruments, international policy tools and legal frameworks in the reduction of both plastic production and pollution and the transformation of the global plastics economy?

Several methods will be employed in order to address this topic: the collection and analysis of quantitative data through interviews with major industry practitioners, regulators, academics as well as government officials in developed and developing countries; policy and legal analysis; literature reviews; analysis of quantitative data on international trade and investment flows; and, for some topics, mini industry or country case-studies within research papers.

Our project will convene a multidisciplinary group of leading experts from academia, international organisations and stakeholder groups to focus on the ‘supply side’ of plastic production and pollution at the global level.

Project Keywords

  • Plastic pollution
  • Global economy
  • Ecosystem
  • Microplastics

Disciplines

  • International Political Economy
  • Ecology
  • Law
  • International Trade

Collaborations

International Organizations

  • United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)
  • United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
  • International Union for Conservation of the Nature

Non-Governmental Organizations

  • Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL)

Governmental Partners

  • Australian National Center for Ocean Resources and Security

Relevant Countries

Worldwide

Status

This is an ongoing project, which started in autumn 2019. The information here is updated regularly. If you have any inquiries please don’t hesitate to contact the project team via the form below.

Project Description Video

Contact the project team

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Research team

 

Annabelle Littoz-Monnet
Coordinator
Graduate Institute

Timothy Swanson
Co-Coordinator
Graduate Institute

Joost Pauwelyn
Co-Coordinator
Graduate Institute

Carolyn Deere Birkbeck
Principal Member
Graduate Institute

Konstantin Kleine
Principal Member
Graduate Institute

Julien Boucher
Principal Member
University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Western Switzerland

Julien Christen
Principal Member
UNCTAD

Brigitta Imeli
Principal Member
University of Berne

Philipp Krueger
Associated Member
University of Geneva

Laurence Boisson de Chazournes
Associated Member
University of Geneva

Ilaria Espa,
Associated Member
University of Berne

Research Assistant
Principal Member
University of Geneva

Diana Barrowclough
Associated Member
UNCTAD

Steve MacFeely
Associated Member
UNCTAD

David Azoulay
Associated Member
Centre for International Environment Law

Guilia Carlini
Associated Member
Centre for International Environment Law

Susan Wingfield
Associated Member
UN Basel Rotterdam and Stockholm Secretariat

Ben Simmons
Associated Member
Green Growth Knowledge Platform

Sabaa Khan
Associated Member
University of Eastern Finland

Donna Green
Associated Member
University of New South Wales, Australia

Jennifer Clapp
Associated Member
University of Waterloo, Canada

Thomas Hale
Associated Member
University of Oxford

Joao Sousa
Associated Member
International Union for Conservation of the Nature

Judith Schäli
Associated Member
University of Berne

Patrick Schroeder
Associated Member
University of Sussex, UK