Marine debris – an urgent, global problem

Interview with Dr Young Nam Kim, Senior Researcher in Oceanography, Marine Litter Management Center, Korea Marine Environment Management Corp. Executive Committee member and co-organiser of 7IMDC

Dr Young Nam Kim, Senior Researcher in Oceanography

The 7th International Marine Debris Conference (7IMDC) is the latest in the world’s largest and longest-running conference series dedicated to the issue of marine debris and plastic pollution. It will take place from 18 to 23 September 2022 in Busan, Republic of Korea. 7IMDC aims to inform, connect and inspire all stakeholders working to address this urgent, global problem.

As the COVID-19 pandemic slowly subsides, you have decided to hold the 7th International Marine Debris Conference (7IMDC) in Busan, Republic of Korea. Will it be a live or a hybrid format? What sparked this decision?

The 7IMDC will be optimized to be a primarily in-person event. However, the conference will have hybrid elements and will provide options for remote attendance in the substantive parts, such as the Technical Sessions. We chose a hybrid format to enable the largest number of people around the world to participate in 7IMDC's Technical Sessions and join important discussions on the issue of marine debris and plastic pollution, while considering potential limitations posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

What will your event look like? Do you plan any major changes to the last conference? And how many delegates do you expect offline/online?

As the latest edition of this notable conference series, the event will build on the momentum of past IMDCs by bringing together all relevant stakeholders to discuss the latest science, strengthen collaborations, find solutions, and catalyze action to address this urgent, global problem. It will also continue important IMDC traditions, such as offering several travel awards and promoting a zero-waste policy. This is the first IMDC held outside the United States, so we are planning excursions for participants to deepen their knowledge around marine debris and plastic pollution, while also experiencing what Korea, and Busan in particular, has to offer. Registration is still open and we are expecting around 1,000 participants to attend in-person, and at least a couple of hundred to participate online.

Did you conduct virtual or hybrid events before? If you compare a virtual with a live event, how different are the planning and organization?

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have held several completely virtual or hybrid events, which require thorough preparation to ensure smooth interaction and effective communication. In the lead up to the 7IMDC, we are working to create a meeting environment where both virtual and in-person participants can feel involved and supported.

The MICE industry has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. How do you think this will change our industry, and what measures can be taken, in your opinion?

I think one of the changes that COVID-19 has brought about is that people are much more accustomed to online and hybrid meetings. As a result, the MICE industry has had to adapt quickly and work to actively focus on solutions for hosting successful and engaging hybrid events.

7th International Marine Debris Conference website: https://7imdc.org/main


The 7IMDC is organized by an Executive Committee comprised of the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries of the Republic of Korea (MOF) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with the organizational support of the Korea Marine Environment Management Corporation (KOEM), and the technical support of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It will build on the momentum of past IMDCs by bringing together governments, industry, academia, civil society, and all relevant stakeholders, to discuss the latest science, strengthen collaborations, find solutions and catalyze action to address the urgent, global problem of marine litter and plastic pollution.