ACU Blue Charter fellows: working together to tackle marine plastic pollution

ACU Blue Charter fellows: working together to tackle marine plastic pollution

Published on 22 February 2019

ACU Blue Charter fellows from across the Commonwealth came together for a workshop to demonstrate how their research is tackling marine plastic pollution and supporting sustainable development.

Fellows took part in a series of flash talks themed around multidisciplinary areas of plastics research, including environmental issues, behaviour change, and reuse and sustainable innovation.

Consistent themes emerged, including:

  • Re-using and repurposing plastics into materials that have practical applications e.g. creating durable materials for construction
  • Influencing behaviours and changing attitudes within their communities and influencing policy makers e.g. reducing single use plastics and making it easier for the public to recycle
  • Understanding the impact of microplastics on aquatic systems and marine life, and developing methods to prevent microplastics from entering water systems

Representatives of partner organisations from the Commonwealth Secretariat, the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and Waitrose highlighted the wider context which these fellowships are operating in – from the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance, to Waitrose's commitment to eliminate avoidable plastic use.

The importance of communicating research effectively and using images to support storytelling, change attitudes and influence policymakers was brought to life by Dr Lesley Henderson, Senior Lecturer in Sociology/Communications at Brunel University – who is also hosting two Blue Charter fellows and supporting their research.

Dr Joanna Newman, ACU Chief Executive and Secretary General, said: 'The ACU is proud to support ground-breaking research through the fellowships for the Commonwealth Blue Charter. The invaluable work being carried out by these outstanding researchers from across the Commonwealth ranges from finding solutions to plastic pollution to creating sustainable solutions to plastic waste. This work will benefit society as a whole and deliver tangible outcomes to help preserve our oceans and we hope better lives for generations to come.'

ACU Blue Charter Fellowships are supporting academics to effect real change, and these fellows represent the start of a new pan-Commonwealth network committed to supporting the aims of the Blue Charter.

Follow the #BlueCharter hashtag on Twitter for the latest from the programme.

More information

The ACU is an international organisation dedicated to building a better world through higher education.

We believe that international collaboration is central to this ambition. By bringing universities together from around the world – and crucially the people who study and work within them ‒ we help to advance knowledge, promote understanding, broaden minds, and improve lives.

We champion higher education as a cornerstone of stronger societies, supporting our members, partners and stakeholders as they adapt to a changing world.

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ACU Blue Charter Fellowships

The ACU Blue Charter Fellowship scheme, funded by the Department for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, is supporting 38 fellows from 31 institutions in 12 countries to travel to an overseas ACU member institution, or other research institute, for a 2-3 month period of collaborative research focused on marine plastics.

Fellows' areas of research cover a wide range of topics connected to marine plastics, from sustainable design and developing alternatives to plastics, to the effects of plastics on marine life and contamination of the food chain, to waste management and behavioural change.

These Fellowships aim to support the creation of new research partnerships and an international network of researchers working to fulfil the aims of the Commonwealth Blue Charter.

About the Commonwealth Blue Charter

The Commonwealth Blue Charter unites the 53 countries of the Commonwealth together to preserve our oceans for future generations. The Charter is an initiative of the Commonwealth Secretariat and is realised through various action groups which are creating solutions to pressing issues such as marine plastic pollution, ocean acidification and coral reef protection.

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