Plastic pollution today is pervasive and persistent. It places an increasing strain on our land, freshwater and marine environments that are vital for sustaining life, human well-being, and economic development. Plastic pollution is a global challenge that calls for systemic changes in the way we produce, use and dispose of plastics at national and global levels.
It is clear that the growing problem of plastic pollution in the environment cannot be solved without considering and involving the future leaders of the world. Young people are the future, and they have the energy and innovation to drive solutions forward.
In a joint effort to inspire and facilitate young people, Sustainable Seas Trust is proud to be collaborating with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) on their Interns for Sustainability exchange programme. The programme is uniting students and young researchers in South Africa and Norway to work together across academic, social, geographical, cultural and legislative boundaries to combat plastic waste and prevent marine pollution.
Launched in November 2020 for a virtual meet and greet, the programme is engaging 42 students and young researchers working closely together in 11 virtual teams. Each of these teams will:
- Have a clear focus on a particular aspect of ocean plastic waste and its challenges.
- Leverage a relationship with industry and businesses in both countries, providing “real-life” challenges and motivation to find sustainable solutions, for hosting the participants, and for disseminating the results.
- Benefit from a coordinating “body” or liaison to facilitate sharing of information and networking – aiming to ensure that the combined effort of individual assignments contributes to the overall aim of the pilot project.
- Contribute to the overall aim of the pilot project by encouraging liaisons to share information and forge networking in and between the working groups.
In January 2021, participants from both countries were brought together digitally for a week of introductory workshops (unfortunately, due to COVID-19 the workshops could not be held in South Africa.) For the next five months, the participants will work on their assignments. The programme will end with a concluding week in Norway (COVID-19 conditions permitting), where the participants will present a poster or presentation with their results and reflections of their assignments.
By equipping future leaders with the relevant knowledge, practical experiences, and international networks to effectively deal with plastic pollution and explore business opportunities in plastic solutions, Interns for Sustainability exchange programme aims to provide significant and sustainable reductions in plastic waste and marine pollution.
The project, funded by the Norwegian Retailers’ Environmental Fund, is expected to run for 3 years and include digital networking as well as international exchanges to South Africa and Norway.
Applications for the second year of the Interns for Sustainability programme will be available from June 2021. Follow Sustainable Seas Trust on our social media or on our AWA mailing list here for future updates.