Straniak Academy 2023:

tackling plastic pollution in oceans and rivers

summer school & research lab

Directors: Hannes Tretter, Vasilka Sancin & Christina Binder
Coordinator: Clara Zimmermann

10.-16.09.2023, Hotel Depandansa Bor, Debeli rtič, SLOVENIA

Registration open!

Participation fee € 300 (includes your stay at the hotel)

Limited places (15 persons)

After a 3-year break the Straniak Academy is back with a new concept and a new thematic focus! Increasing plastic pollution of oceans and rivers not only severely threatens ecosystems, but also undermines the full enjoyment of human rights. Against this backdrop, this year’s edition of the Straniak Academy focuses on plastic pollution in oceans and rivers. During six days, participants will be able to take part in a conference on the subject with speakers from academia (law and sciences), politics, and civil society organisations, as well as develop own projects in a research lab.


The Straniak Academy 2023 will consist of two parts. Participants will attend the Closing Conference of the ‘Clean Mediterranean Sea!’ research project and afterwards take part in a research lab. The Academy aims at providing knowledge on the complex issue of plastic pollution in an interdisciplinary manner, building a bridge between academic research, legal policy and civil society engagement, conveying foundations of academic (legal) research and project planning, allowing participants to gain hands on experience by developing their own country-specific projects and thereby strengthening young leadership. Participants will be instructed by and work with highly qualified lecturers and mentors.


During the two-day CMS! Closing Conference (Monday, 11.09. – Tuesday, 12.09.) experts in environmental law, environmental scientists, politicians, and members of civil society organisations will come together to discuss the project results and legal policy recommendations, as well as challenges and ways forward concerning marine plastic pollution in the Mediterranean Sea. Participants of the Straniak Academy will be able to follow the lectures and presentations, as well as participate in the discussion rounds and panel discussions. 


During the second half of the week (Wednesday, 13.09. – Friday, 15.09.), participants will have the opportunity to develop their country-specific projects on plastic pollution littering in rivers flowing into the Mediterranean Sea (notably the Adriatic and Aegean Sea). To accomplish this, participants can choose to work individually or in groups. Five mentors will provide guidance in the process of elaborating the research proposals. At the end of the Academy participants are expected to present either a general research proposal or a concrete legislative proposal which could be the basis for funding and subsequently be realised to that extent. Legislative proposals for new laws or concrete legislative amendments should focus on international, EU or domestic law, and could be published and/or submitted to the relevant legislative authorities. Because three days is not much to complete such proposals it will be possible to submit a final version after the end of the Academy.


Since time for the research lab is very limited, preparation is key. To allow participants to make the most of their time during the Academy preparatory materials will be sent out in advance and participants are expected to come prepared. The goal is to provide an overview of the relevant problem areas and approaches to solutions to enrich the participation in the in the Conference and the input for the project work within the framework of the research lab.



Vasilka Sancin, PhD, is a Full (tenured) Professor of International Law, Head of Department of International Law and Director of the Institute for International Law and International Relations at University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Law. She is a member (2022-2025) of the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, and served (2019-2022) as a member and Vice-Chair of the UN Human Rights Committee. Among others, she serves as an ad hoc judge at the European court of Human Rights; an arbitrator and a Bureau member of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration (OSCE); an expert of the OSCE Moscow mechanism on Human Rights; a President of the Slovene Branch of International Law Association (ILA); email:


Dr. Christina Binder, E.MA, holds the Chair for International Law and International Human Rights Law at the University of the Bundeswehr Munich since April 2017. Before, she was University Professor of International Law at the University of Vienna and Deputy Director of the interdisciplinary Research Centre “Human Rights”. Christina was member of the Executive Board of the European Society of International Law (ESIL) 2014-2022 and also served as ESIL’s Vice-President. She is member of the Council of the Global Campus of Human Rights since 2019 and Co-Rapporteur of the ILA Committee on Human Rights in Times of Emergency. Her research focuses on a number of public international law issues, including human rights, the law of treaties, international investment law, democracy and political participation as well as international environmental law. She has widely published in these fields. Christina also acts as electoral expert for OSCE/ODIHR, the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and the Venice Commission.


Clara Kammeringer (she/her), originally from Austria, has an interdisciplinary degree in liberal arts and sciences from Maastricht University with a focus on legal studies and philosophy. Next to her degree and since finishing it she has been working as a legal researcher at the Vienna Forum for Democracy and Human Rights and as a trainee in the research and documentation directorate at the Court of Justice of the European Union. As a mentor at the Straniak Academy she will support participants in all questions related to research planning, methodology and the joys of interdisciplinary approaches.


Jonas Gröner (he/him) is a coach, trainer and facilitator for community builders, activists and changemakers who are committed to a regenerative transformation of society. He’s been working in self-organized contexts from permaculture farms to start-ups, co-ops and non-profits for the past 8 years and is passionate about all things community, self-organization and systems thinking. The main focus of his work is to support people to collectively take action on their visions of a world where all beings can thrive. In his role as a mentor he will be available for support around clarifying project visions, developing a coherent theory of change and structuring collaborations and teams.


Milana Ranković is Teaching Assistant at University of Montenegro, Faculty of Law and Ph.D. student at the Faculty of Law, University of Novi Sad.  Environment Law is one of the areas of her interest and module on which she assists in teaching. She participated in numerous projects and professional and scientific conferences in Montenegro and abroad and is the author of many scientific and research articles.


Ing. Gerald Blaich, born on February 27, 1958 in Vienna. Education as a forester, district manager of the forests of Zwettl Abbey until retired in 2021. Representative of near-natural silviculture. Co-founder and board member of the Austrian marine protection organization MareMundi.


  • Six days of fruitful and engaging input and discussions
  • Participation at the CMS! Closing Conference
  • 3 full days of Research Lab
  • Excellent support for your project by mentors from different academic disciplines and backgrounds
  • A beautiful location at the Slovenian seaside


You are a scholar or (advanced) student in law, natural science, economy, political science, philosophy or other academic disciplines, an activist, youth leader, change-maker, or visionary… In short, we are looking for young people who are passionate about tackling plastic pollution and thereby contributing to facing one of the most pressing environmental and human rights challenge. We are looking for people who are willing to go deeper, think outside the box, cross disciplinary boundaries, and have the courage to think big. If you have the motivation to use this fantastic opportunity to broaden your skills and knowledge and bring about change then join us for the Straniak Academy 2023!


If you wish to apply for the Straniak Academy 2023, please send your CV and a short letter of motivation (ca. 500 words) until 15 August 2023, stating why you wish to join the Academy, what you can contribute to it and what you would like to take away from it.

The Straniak Academy can take place thanks to the financial support of the Hermann and Marianne Straniak Foundation, Switzerland.

Straniak Academy on

Democracy, Rule of Law and Human Rights

Impressum: Wiener Forum für Demokratie und Menschenrechte