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Solid waste solutions for creating a sustainable marine future


Dr Costas Velis addressed the high level delegates of the KfW Development Finance Forum, explaining how solving the solid waste management crisis in the Global South can prevent marine litter.

Dr Costas Velis, Lecturer in Resource Efficiency Systems at the School of Civil Engineering, played a key role the recent KfW Development Finance Forum in his capacity as Chair of the ISWA Marine Litter Task Force, addressing the conference attendees on the marine litter global challenge.

The Development Finance Forum is the annual flagship event of KfW Development Bank. The Forum each year deals with a current and pressing issue of international development cooperation.

The latest edition was about the world´s oceans and why their protection is so important for the future of human kind. The event took place on 21 and 22 November 2017 in Frankfurt and followed the first UN conference on oceans in New York in June, where Dr Velis was also invited and presented, and the climate conference in Bonn in November.

Delegates discussed ways to protect the world´s oceans and identified any potential challenges. The focal points were marine protection, marine economy and marine litter.


Dr Velis said: “The tap on plastics marine litter cannot be turned off without addressing the Global South solid waste management crisis. Waste plastic materials and products contain a great amount of resources and value, which in a sustainable society should be captured and used.

"Improving recyclability by design is the new imperative, but this needs to be combined with suitable infrastructure to capture and process the waste items for the 2 billion fellow humans who live without waste collection services in the Global South. If not, plastics will keep ending up as marine litter, polluting our waters and jeopardising our collective future.”

The Forum, entitled Oceans 21 – Solutions for a Sustainable Marine Future, welcomed close to 150 high-level experts from around the world from academia, civic society, and the financial sector working on ocean conservation. The event aimed to create a place for the exchange of ideas to collectively find solutions for establishing a sustainable marine future. The conclusions of the Forum endorse and reinforce the messages of the ISWA Marine Litter Task Force, which Dr Velis put forward.

Dr Velis’ active research portfolio spans many aspects of recovering resources from solid waste for a sustainable circular economy future.

He is the recipient of many prestigious international awards for his research papers on waste and resources management, including those from the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and Waste Management and Research. With a diverse scientific background, his inter-disciplinary research on waste and resources is impactful in the ‘real world’. The latest example being the recent EU plastics strategy, which is influenced by, and cites, his global recycling markets analysis.

Dr Velis' expertise in global benchmarking has led him to play a key role in relevant global initiatives, including the seminal Global Waste Management Outlook, commissioned by UNEP, lead the Task Force established by the International Solid Waste Association and he has been involved in the recently convened UN Habitat / UN Environment Joint Expert Group on the monitoring of relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Further Information

Main picture shows Dr Costas Velis presenting at the Development Finance Forum, photo: Thorsten Futh.

Watch the Forum video here. Dr Costas Velis, from 03:24.

To find out more about the Development Finance Forum, visit KfW Development Bank website.