A Focus on National and International Actions for Protecting the Marine Environment

Last February our Living Seas Champion, Paige Bentley, headed to represent young people, the Our Wild Coast Project and the Welsh Government in Scotland's International Marine Conference and the British-Irish Council Marine Litter Symposium in Glasgow. Here's her account of how it all went...

During the 20th- 22nd of February, I was incredibly fortunate to attend Scotland's International Marine Conference, and the British-Irish Council Marine Litter Symposium, at Strathclyde University, Glasgow.

During the International Marine Conference focus was on national and international actions for protecting the marine environment, through identifying new threats and finding solutions to reverse the current damage.

We arrived too late to attend the first day of the conference, but presentation sessions included;

IMC Presentation 1

Paige Bentley: The Presentations

Having rested from our 5 hour train journey up to Scotland, we rose bright and early to register. We spent time perusing the displays, of projects focused on reducing marine pollution, and enhancing awareness of marine ecosystems. Projects included; The Cotton Bud Project, The Great Nurdle Hunt, Scrapbook, and SeaSearch.

Beach Litter

Paige Bentley: Beach Litter

The focus of Day 2's presentations was on the impact of marine litter, and potential solutions.

I spend a large proportion of my time clearing beach litter and helping out with family-activities focused on marine conservation. This was the perfect opportunity to delve deeper into the current situation, and view first-hand how such devastatingly large problems are being addressed by politics.

During the morning session we attended the 'Promoting Behaviour Change' presentation; consumer behaviour drives manufacturing and eventual pollution, and there are many ways to sway social norms towards sustainable lifestyles. We heard from #WildBottleSighting, Upstream Battle, LiveHereLoveHere, and Green Schools initiatives.

Each project is ultimately focused on pushing the environmental agenda more, and generating an emotional impact on the public to drive change. It was refreshing to see the impact of taking a 'stealthy' approach, such as the Cotton Bud Project, who formed amicable links with Johnson&Johnson before addressing changing manufacturing procedures.

#WildBottleSighting

Paige Bentley: #WildBottleSighting

Ideas for Change

Paige Bentley: Ideas for Change

Youth Action for Climate; this session focused on young people below 13 years old, with plenty of interactive learning and brain-storming ways to normalise environmentalism.

We heard from an inspiring young girl, founder of 'Lily's Plastic PickUp', and World Ambassador of several organisations- one to watch out for in the next 10 years! She is calling to arms all young people, to challenge their parents, schools, and government to act faster.

Q&A Session

Such an awesome opportunity to learn so much! What a privilege to witness the back-and-forth discussion of audience and government panel tackling our current plight.

Everything was discussed, from circular economy, producer-responsibility and eco-centric manufacturing, to future-proofing new innovations, emotional targeting, and pushing the environmental agenda harder.

There were so many new viewpoints and opinions that I haven't yet learned about, so it really was a feast for thought! Several issues raised have made me even more determined to drive for a new system, and help propagate meaningful change.

Dino!

Paige Bentley: Awesome Specimen, Awful Photo Editing (PS. we don't agree with you about the Awful Photo Editing Paige!)

BIC Symposium

Ministerial delegates attended the BIC symposium, representing the Governments of Scotland, Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man. The opening discussion was unusual, as normally it is done behind closed doors, without an audience watching.

The focus was on 3 pressing issues, each one deserving separate consideration and efforts to solve;

Slide 2

Break-out sessions then followed, where we split into groups to tackle one of the above conundrums. We attended the Education session- as the Wildlife Trust, we strive to promote behavioural change and improve awareness of the planet, so this fit the bill nicely!

As usual, there was a lot of talk about the problems of changing education systems, but we managed to stick to the objective of finding SOLUTIONS, not outlining problems. So, a very pro-active session.

All ideas and suggestions were discussed and noted, and put to the government, to begin the process of expanding environmental knowledge and awareness.

Slide 3

Andy and I both put forth suggestions (although it took me 20 minutes of adrenaline and nerves before having the confidence to raise my voice!). Who knows, in a small way, maybe we helped inform policy change?

It would be wonderful to witness positive outcomes of these discussions, on paper and in everyday life. After all, that's where the actual impact happens, in our own town, and in our own homes.

Final Thoughts

An opportunity like no-other. I will certainly be using everything I learnt to add to my fuel and fight for change. I'm more eager than ever to help win this battle, and it seems that many feel the same way. The tide is turning!

Starfish

Thank you for your great blog Paige...

...we're really proud to have you on-board here at NWWT!

Have you got a good wildlife story to tell? If you'd like to join in with our blog please send your idea to info@northwaleswildlifetrust.org.uk