Four men in black suits sit on a stage which is decorated with flowers in the front

ZMT scientific director Professor Raimund Bleischwitz recently attended the Global Environmental Action (GEA) International Conference in Japan to host a session on “A circular economy and countermeasures for marine plastic litter”. The conference, which took place in Tokyo from October 27 to 28, was a high-level policy event held in the presence of Their Imperial Highnesses Crown Prince and Crown Princess Akishino. This year’s overall theme was: “Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Societes: Climate Change, Energy and Food Security.”

At the opening ceremony on October 27, the GEA Chairman Wataru Takeshita welcomed the participants followed by an address by His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Akishino. Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and the Minister of the Environment, Nishimuri Akihiro also marked the official start of the event with welcoming addresses.

The ZMT-hosted session saw excellent contributions by Stientje van Veldhoven (Vice President and Regional Director of the World Resources Institute Europe and former Dutch Minister for the Environment), Saraya Yusuke (CEO Saraya, Benjamas Chotthong), Sylvain Agosti (University of Tsukuba), and Fujiwara Masaaki (Soca University).

Summarising the session Raimund Bleischwitz says: “The participants, myself included, come from different scientific backgrounds, but we all agreed that it was high time that the UN has now adopted a resolution to end plastic pollution through an international legally binding instrument. However, the road to implement such as international treaty and making sure it has teeth and is not just a paper tiger is going to be long and quite likely rocky at times. Japan will hold the G7 presidency in 2023 and I hope that our conclusions at this conference might feed through the relevant channels into further discussion on the forthcoming international treaty on plastic pollution.”

At the two-day conference Bleischwitz also enjoyed sessions on a diverse range of topics from decarbonisation, to water management, biodiversity and food and was “generally honoured to have been invited to an inspiring and warm-hearted audience with Their Imperial Highnesses”.