UNESCO International Hydrological Programme / Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency

Microplastics in freshwater environments

Monday 27 August | 14.00-15.30 | Room: FH 307
Source: Shutterstock

Microplastics in freshwater environments represent a growing concern. The presence of microplastics in freshwater have been reported in different parts of the world—even in remote areas. Yet, scientific knowledge on microplastics in freshwater is limited.

The event presents the state of knowledge, research and policies on microplastics in freshwater. Results of the UNESCO-IHP International Initiative on Water Quality (IIWQ) assessment on microplastics in freshwater and wastewater in 16 countries around the world will be presented, along with the state-of-the-art information on their potential human health and environmental effects. The findings of this assessment, presented in the UNESCO publication Microplastics in Freshwater Environments, highlight the need to improve scientific knowledge, fill data and policy gaps, and propose policy measures to reduce the discharge of microplastics into freshwater through better wastewater and solid waste management and by promoting sustainable production and consumption. The assessment therefore offers an important step towards developing appropriate policy solutions. 

Moreover, leading experts will share their research on microplastics, with focus on: occurrence in freshwater; sampling and analysis; removal during wastewater treatment, and effects on freshwater and marine aquatic biota and the food web. The event will also discuss data and policy gaps and future research priorities.

Gold standard events are committed to ensure the gender balance in speakers/panellists and young professional representation in the session.


Moderator: Sarantuyaa Zandaryaa, UNESCO

14:00-14:10    Opening remarks

Mr Thierno Hamet Baba LY, Chairperson, Intergovernmental Council of the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) of UNESCO, and Secretary-General, Ministry of Water and Sanitation, Senegal

14:10-14:25    Keynote

Microplastics in freshwater environments around the world: A preliminary assessment by UNESCO-IHP International Initiative on Water Quality
Dr Sarantuyaa Zandaryaa
, International Hydrological Programme (IHP), UNESCO 

14:25-15:00    The state-of-the-art scientific research and knowledge on microplastics in freshwater

  • (Micro)plastics in freshwater in Germany: From sampling to analytics and effects
     Dr Friederike Stock, Georg Reifferscheid, Nicole Brennholt, Federal Institute of Hydrology, Germany

  • Microplastics in Lake Kallavesi in Finland: Analysis of size distribution and sources
    Dr Arto Koistinen, University of Eastern Finland

  • Microplastics in Thames River and its tributaries: Presence and sources in sediments and fish
    Ms Alice Horton, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, UK

  • Microplastic pollution in Rivers in Metro Manila, The Philippines
    Prof Maria Antonia N. Tanchuling, University of the Philippines Diliman, The Philippines

  • The removal of microplastics in wastewater treatment plants
    Dr Gabriela Kalčikova, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

  • Microplastics in freshwater: The 'Source-to-Sea' perspective
    Ms Birgitta Liss Lymer, Stockholm International Water Institute, Sweden

15:00-15:25     Panel discussion with experts, followed by interactive Q&A with participants

15:25-15:30     Summary and key messages