Press invitation: How can we solve the problem of ocean plastic?

The ocean is the final destination for large amounts of plastic, but how dangerous is this and what can we do about it? This is the theme of a scientific symposium at which the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) will gather expertise in the field.

The problem of ocean plastic has recently been receiving a great deal of attention. We know that there are large amounts of plastic in our oceans, and it is estimated that about twelve million tons end up there every year. This is equivalent to more than 22 tons per minute, 24 hours a day. Around one per cent of this plastic is on the surface and the rest is in the form of small plastic particles, usually called microplastics, deep in the water.

Knowledge gaps

There are, however, large gaps in our knowledge. For example, we do not definitely know how dangerous this plastic is to animals and the natural world. Knowledge about the process of plastic degradation is also necessary.

“The focus of this symposium is to look at the ways that plastic can potentially break down in the ocean and what science knows about toxicity, for example. We have chosen to gather leading researchers to present the current state of knowledge and to discuss possible actions,” says Leif G. Anderson, emeritus professor at the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Gothenburg and vice chair of the Academy of Sciences’ Environmental Committee.

Focus on the Baltic

The Academy of Sciences’ Environmental Committee is organising the symposium in partnership with IUCN. The speakers come from Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland and Sweden and will concentrate on the situation in the Baltic Sea. A new report on pollution in the Baltic Sea shows the scale of the situation, how plastic reaches the sea and its many consequences for humans and nature.

“We still have a limited understanding of which plastics and environmental toxins are introduced via our food. This symposium will contribute to examining this and suggest where further research is necessary,” says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Principal Scientist at IUCN’s Marine Programme.  

Many of the potential solutions and actions that will be discussed during the symposium are not only relevant to the Baltic Sea, but also to the world’s other oceans.

Registration: Press are welcome to participate in both days. Please inform Eva Nevelius, press secretary,, +46 (0)70 878 6763, of your attendance and any requests.

Place: Swedish Museum of Natural History (room: Stora hörsalen), Frescativägen 40, Stockholm.

Date: 13–14 June (from 12 noon on the first day, full day on day two)

Read more and see the programme at

Read more about IUCN at


Leif Anderson
Emeritus professor and member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
+46 (0)31 786 9005

Carl Gustaf Lundin
Principal Scientist, IUCN’s Marine Programme
+41 79 477 1400

Minna Epps
Director, IUCN’s Marine Programme
+41 79 681 5197


IUCN is a membership Union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organisations. It provides public, private and non-governmental organisations with the knowledge and tools that enable human progress, economic development and nature conservation to take place together. Created in 1948, IUCN is now the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network, harnessing the knowledge, resources and reach of more than 1,300 Member organisations and some 14,500 experts. It is a leading provider of conservation data, assessments and analysis. Its broad membership enables IUCN to fill the role of incubator and trusted repository of best practices, tools and international standards. IUCN provides a neutral space in which diverse stakeholders including governments, NGOs, scientists, businesses, local communities, indigenous peoples organisations and others can work together to forge and implement solutions to environmental challenges and achieve sustainable development. Working with many partners and supporters, IUCN implements a large and diverse portfolio of conservation projects worldwide. Combining the latest science with the traditional knowledge of local communities, these projects work to reverse habitat loss, restore ecosystems and improve people’s well-being. Read more at: