情色六月天

Daniel Akrofi, PhD Student

Plastic Pollution and the Law

Daniel Akrofi is an international legal and sustainability consultant currently pursuing doctoral research in international law and global governance at the 情色六月天.

His research explores a number of sustainability (environmental, social, and economic) issues across the full lifecycle of plastics to analyse the law around global plastic pollution. Daniel is focusing on the interconnectedness and interaction that exists between environmental law and other fields of international law and is looking at how we can develop more holistic approaches that address the complex challenges global plastic law and governance present.

“Managing plastic pollution has become a concern not just to national governments but the international community as well,” explains Daniel. "It is one of the key environmental issues that pervades all aspects of life on earth, and that is why we need to find a solution as soon as possible."

With the United Nations currently negotiating a global treaty to end global plastic pollution, I am looking at how we can employ Earth System Law as a new innovative legal imaginary to find solutions to global plastic governance.

Holistic Approach

“There are around 10,000 chemicals in plastic and not all are regulated," says Daniel. “We have existing international environmental laws regulating the marine environment, freshwater environment, ice systems, atmosphere, and land-based sources of pollution, but when combined they only partially address the plastic pollution problem.

"Moreover, because plastic is an economic product, other laws such as international trade laws and transport laws address some aspects of plastic pollution, so we need to tackle the issues holistically. This could mean new regulations being considered by the UN to end plastic pollution, but crucially its more about ensuring that such new laws are designed to close existing gaps in global plastic regulation while leveraging on the strengths of existing treaties in a more coordinated and harmonised manner.”

As well as his crucial work at Lincoln, Daniel also sits on the Steering Committee of the Scientists’ Coalition for an Effective Plastics Treaty – an international network of independent scientific and technical experts that are offering interpretations of scientific knowledge to help develop a global agreement to end plastic pollution.

Scientists' Coalition

The Scientists’ Coalition for an Effective Plastics Treaty was formed in 2022, following the decision of the United Nations Environment Assembly to start negotiations towards a treaty to end plastic pollution. Its Steering Committee is responsible for the overarching strategy and approves outputs from the working groups.

Taking the Lead

Daniel has also attended and presented his research at several conferences – including the Society of Legal Scholars conference – and has published articles in key publications and on the largest sustainability platform in the world.

Daniel adds: “Considering that the global plastic industry could account for 19 per cent of the total global carbon budget by 2040, I’d like to use my knowledge and experience after I complete my PhD to help international organisations that are looking to lead the charge in mitigating plastics, climate, and other sustainability-related matters to ensure we operate in a liveable planet. After all, we have only one Earth to live in."

Daniel, who is based in the Lincoln Law School and the Lincoln Centre for Ecological Justice, says his time studying at the University has helped him to develop this expertise and bolster his knowledge of international law.

“Even though I am primarily an environmental scientist and a natural resource management professional, I was welcomed into the legal field at the Lincoln Law School with open arms, and the support I’ve received has been fantastic,” he says.

The Lincoln Law School

The Lincoln Law School is home to a vibrant academic community that combines high-quality teaching with outstanding research. Working with key stakeholders and practitioners, its research addresses challenges from the global to the local, including responses to environmental change, respect for human rights, and enhancing criminal justice.

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Life at Lincoln

“I chose Lincoln because of what I term as the three Ps. Firstly, People. The University is home to world-class academics and researchers and I have been lucky enough to be supported by supervisors with incredible knowledge and expertise and are leaders in their field.

“Secondly, Project. I didn’t have a legal background but my thesis idea was accepted and supported with a real enthusiasm to explore global plastic pollution and different aspects of international environmental law and governance.

“Finally, Payment. It was a sponsored programme so that has helped with funding my PhD studies. Of course, that is important, but so are all the other support networks and facilities that are available at the 情色六月天 – from the online student groups that were set up by my supervisor to keep her PhD student talking through the Covid-19 pandemic, to the study support services that can help with all aspects of the PhD journey.”

Daniel recognises the crucial role these services play in the life of a postgraduate student, in what can sometimes be an isolating experience. In fact, he joined the University's Residence Life Team to help bring students together in a supportive environment.

“The ResLife Team organises social nights and other events, and offers support to help students make the most of their time at University. I must give a big shout out to ResLife Manager Amy Fairweather, who allowed me to organise the first ever PhD social night in the cosy ResLife Lounge to help PhD students network in a more relaxed environment and advise prospective postgraduate students,” says Daniel. “All of this complements the academic side and makes the whole student experience even more enjoyable.”

Daniel Akrofi

You can find out more about Daniel's interests, work experiences, and research outputs on his LinkedIn page.