18.02.2019 | ZMT Scientific Director Professor Hildegard Westphal and Professor Anna-Katharina Hornidge, Head of Social Sciences, travelled to Washington recently for a G7 scientific advice cooperation on microplastics pollution. Organised and hosted by the Canadian Government the advisory roundtable included 22 high-level representatives from the G7 members states Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States as well as the European Union.
Professor Westphal and Professor Hornidge joined the German party as scientific experts with lead delegate Christian Jörgens, Minister-Counselor, Head of Section Science & Technology at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Washington DC.
The aims of the round-table, chaired by Professor Pearl Dykstra, Deputy-chair of the EC Group of Chief Scientific Advisors and Professor Mona Nemer, Canada’s Chief Science Advisor, was to “deepen linkages among G7 Chief Science Advisors and share information regarding microplastics pollution and its potential impacts on health and the environment. The intention is to enhance participants’ understanding of the current scientific evidence base of microplastics pollution and to share information among G7 members to permit better science advice to policy-makers”.
The initiative resulted from work initiated by the European Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors and its discussions with Canada’s Chief Science Advisor, said the hosts of the meeting in their agenda paper. They stated: “Seen as relevant to G7 efforts to reduce plastics pollution and marine litter, the initiative was endorsed in the Chairs’ Summary of the 20 September 2018 G7 Joint Ministerial Session in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on ‘Healthy Oceans, Seas and resilient communities’ in the following terms: ‘Ministers noted the efforts by G7 members on scientific advice cooperation on microplastics, and welcomed the commitment by Canada and the European Commission to host a workshop in 2019 and the invitation for all G7 partners to participate’.”
Hildegard Westphal says: “It was an honour to actively join this group of distinguished political stakeholders and science experts and to represent Germany in this exchange by contributing our scientific advice to the discussions. We welcome that microplastics pollution is now such an important issue on the G7 scientific and political agenda.”
Anna-Hornidge adds: “The fact that we can also share findings from sociological research on the effects of ocean pollution on humans and society shows that interdisciplinary, joint efforts by the natural and social sciences to tackle these global problems are increasingly perceived and appreciated by politicians and donors alike.”