What future for research in microplastics? | JPI OCEANS

What future for research in microplastics?

2013.12.18

What future for research in microplastics?

Foresight experts’ workshop held on the role of research in tackling microplastics in the oceans

On 20 November, a group of more than 20 experts from across Europe was invited to the JPI Oceans Secretariat for a foresight workshop on microplastics. The workshop’s objective was to elucidate the contribution research could make to address the problem of microplastics in the marine environment. The generated insights will ultimately serve to make recommendations to the JPI Oceans member countries on where to place their future funding priorities.

The microplastics experts – nominated partly by member countries and comprising representatives from academia, research, industry, civil society and the policy-making community – were encouraged to debate the future research needs in this field. On the basis of a discussion paper prepared by law researcher Aleke Stöfen (University of Trier) and ecotoxicologist Heather Leslie (VU University Amsterdam), lively and critical discussions ensued about the severity of the problem of microplastics in the oceans, the major trends and challenges on the horizon and how research could help to address these.

The workshop is part of a foresight test run which is being carried out in the context of the CSA Oceans project– a three-year FP7 project which aims to build up the structures for long-term cooperation in JPI Oceans. Ultimately, the test run is being used to develop a transferable model for identifying future research priorities for JPI Oceans in a transparent, inclusive and efficient manner. The model seeks to actively involve and engage relevant stakeholders as well as research funders to debate the strategic long-term orientation of marine and maritime RTD in Europe as a basis for devising integrated strategies for JPI Oceans.

The Management Board of JPI Oceans advised to launch the foresight test run in the field of microplastics in order to accompany the JPI Oceans pilot action which is being developed in this topic area. The foresight exercise offers a means to build on the outcomes of the pilot action as well as to explore issues and questions beyond those already covered in the action. The exercise, therefore, serves to embed the pilot action in a wider strategic process.

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