by Clara Kammeringer
Photos: Mirzana Bexheti
The Straniak Academy 2023 was dedicated to the issue of increasing plastic pollution of oceans and rivers which not only severely threatens ecosystems, but also undermines the full enjoyment of human rights. The Academy participants first took part in the CMS! Closing Conference where experts in environmental law, environmental scientists, politicians, and members of civil society organisations came together to discuss marine plastic pollution in the Mediterranean Sea. After those two days full of information and food for thought, the Academy participants gathered the following day to get to work themselves.
The academy day started with a short lecture on current scientific solutions to plastic pollution in waters and their downsides by the NGO MareMundi, represented by Robert Hofrichter and Gerald Blaich. Following this, Prof. Christina Binder (University of the Bundeswehr Munich) and Prof. Vasilka Sancin (University of Ljubljana) directed a workshop on how to write a model law. In the afternoon, the participants went to coming up with their own research ideas on the topic. Together with Jonas Groener, I had the pleasure of leading this process and we immensely enjoyed seeing how many ideas floated through the room. Despite everyone being slightly exhausted from the previous days, the motivation and inspiration with which the participants formulated their own ideas to tackle the issue was remarkable. After breaking up into three groups of research teams, the participants started dissecting their chosen research topic using the theory of change model as well as exploring their personal motivations for why to work on it. The day ended with every group formulating their research question. Over the next weeks, the participants will develop research proposals for these questions which we are very much looking forward to receiving. On behalf of the Straniak Academy Team, I can only thank you, the participants, for your engagement and enthusiastic participation. We wish you all the best!