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POLARPROG-Polarforskningsprogram

Governance of Marine Litter in the Arctic (GOMPLAR). Comparing international governance and legal frameworks to inform Arctic governance

Alternative title: Marin plastforsøpling i Arktis. En sammenligning av internasjonale styrings- og forvaltningssystemer for innspill til arktisk politikk

Awarded: NOK 12.0 mill.

An international research team (Norway, South Korea, China) compares governance mechanisms for marine pollution in the Northeast Atlantic and the Northwest Pacific. Elements of legal and political regimes found in international conventions and agreements in these two regions can be central to forward to processes to stop plastic pollution in the Arctic. The project provides valuable research based knowledge to Norwegian authorities, the Arctic Council and other entities working to stop plastic pollution in the Arctic. A large share of marine plastic pollution in the Arctic come with ocean currents and rivers from other parts of the world. But Arctic fishing and aquaculture industries pollute the ocean through loss of gear, in addition to waste discharge. With few years to go to reach the UN SDG target 14.1 "Byt 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution", emphasis on effective and coordinated governance schemes is crucial. A comparative study of concrete mechanism in the Northeast Atlantic and Northwest Pacific present a possibility to analyse measures that can be implemented in the regional action plan under development in the Arctic Council. Today, the national policies and strategies in the northeast Atlantic and northwest Pacific regions are inadequate. To reverse the inadequacy of the regulatory frameworks, there is need for concerted international efforts to achieve harmonization. GOMPLAR has five work packages: 1) Northeast Atlantic; 2) Northwest Pacific, 3) The circumpolar context, 4) Orchestration, 5) Circular economy The Arctic Council is heavily influenced and changed because of the tense international situation since February 2022. Without Russia, the Arctic Council has to redefine its activities. We need to consider that in GOMPLAR. Norway will have the Arctic Council chairmanship 2023-2025. This provides us with excellente opportunities to offer input from the GOMPLAR project's research.

The project is an original research project, doing comparative study of the vast implications and possible shortcomings and knowledge gaps applying to two geographical areas heavily impacted by plastic waste and littering: the Northeast Atlantic and the Northwest Pacific regions. Norwegian environmental authorities are increasingly committed to work internationally to target plastic pollution, and marine litter in the Arctic is a mounting environmental challenge. Much has been done to reverse the problem, and there are positive results of the efforts. However, the legal and regulatory framework for addressing marine plastic litter in the Arctic remains inadequate. A resolution requires concerted international efforts. GOMPLAR will assess and compare the government mechanisms of the Northeast Atlantic and Northwest Pacific Oceans to identify the constituent elements of a legal and political platform for the prevention and remediation of marine plastic litter discharge in the Arctic. The research aims at developing new knowledge to support future policy formulation by the government of Norway, the Arctic Council and other bodies currently working to put in place an international regulatory framework to minimize marine plastic litter in the Arctic. The project addresses eight research questions covering different geographical levels, spanning from overarching international regulatory frameworks, to how lessons from two large regions can be applied to the cirumpolar region, to local case studies scrutinizing how international regulations and framework can impact the proliferation and implementation of circular economy principles as a measure to reduce plastic use and plastic pollution. Case studies are Longyearbyen, Svalbard, and Tromsø. To answer the research questions, we have divided secondary research questions and hypotheses into five work packages that research, process and analyze multiple levels of plastic governanc.

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Funding scheme:

POLARPROG-Polarforskningsprogram