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Wilson Center’s Polar Institute and Harvard Kennedy School’s Arctic Initiative Release Report on Combating Plastic Pollution in the Arctic Ocean

Press Release
April 8, 2020
Contact: Ryan McKenna
April 8, 2020

Washington, DC and Cambridge, MA — The Polar Institute at The Wilson Center and the Arctic Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs today released a report on “Policy and Action on Plastic Pollution in the Arctic Ocean.” The report is based on a workshop the Centers co-hosted this past fall with the Icelandic Chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

The event at Harvard Kennedy School convened a diverse group of over sixty global thought leaders, stakeholders, and experts that included Indigenous leaders from Alaska and Norway, scientists from The Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment Working Group, UNEP and OSPAR representatives and industry leaders in the tourism, fishing, recycling and circular economy spacesThe workshop report offers targeted recommendations to researchers and policymakers.  

“This report underscores the value of our unique partnership with the Arctic Initiative and provides critical insights into plastic pollution in the Arctic and the need for an integrated, international approach to address this growing problem,” said Mike Sfraga, Director of the Wilson Center’s Polar Institute and Global Risk & Resilience Program.

“Plastic pollution in the Arctic Ocean poses long-term environmental and economic risks for the region,” said Halla Hrund Logadottir, Co-founder and Co-director of the Arctic Initiative. “We’ve been delighted to work with the Icelandic Chairmanship of the Arctic Council in bringing together global expertise to help policymakers in the Arctic Council and elsewhere address this important challenge.”

David Balton, Senior Fellow at the Wilson Center’s Polar Institute, said, “The workshop provided extraordinary insight into the spread of plastic pollution in the Arctic Ocean. We learned what we know – and what we do not know – about this problem. We also developed a range of practical recommendations to address plastic pollution in the Arctic, even as we strive to improve our understanding.”

The full report is available here.

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