Professor Steve Fletcher
I am a Professor of Ocean Policy and Economy, Director of Revolution Plastics, the University's interdisciplinary plastics-focused research initiative, and Director of the Global Plastics Policy Centre.
My research and practice focus on creating sustainable outcomes for people and the planet, particularly the interconnected challenges of plastic pollution and the transition to a sustainable blue economy. I do research that generates meaningful societal outcomes and directly confronts biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change. I am one of the top five most-cited researchers in the blue economy field. I have more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and research reports, including for the UN, World Bank, and G20, as well as governments and international NGOs. I am the founding Editor-in-Chief of the new interdisciplinary journal Cambridge Prisms: Plastics, which curates high-quality research to underpin the transition to a sustainable plastics future.
From 2015 to 2018, I was Head of the Marine Programme at the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) in Cambridge. This is a global leadership position in the ocean sustainability sector. In this role, I led a team of interdisciplinary marine experts who provided scientific evidence and policy support to develop and implement global conservation agreements, including the Convention on Biodiversity, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Convention on Migratory Species. I directly supported international negotiations for a new legally binding instrument on the protection of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, which included participation in intergovernmental negotiations at UN HQ in New York and leading and participating in numerous knowledge-sharing events for national negotiators. In 2016, I was appointed as an expert member of the UN International Resource Panel, an invitation-only panel of 35 world-leading scientists who provide specialist evidence and advice to governments on global resource management.
During 2018-19, I was Chief Strategy Officer at UNEP-WCMC, which meant I was responsible for the entire research portfolio (65 projects of total value over $30 million). In this role, I represented the UN Environment Programme at numerous international events, including the Global Environment Facility Council, the UN Environment Assembly, and regular global coordination meetings of leading conservation bodies. I also led fundraising for the Centre’s activities with governments, intergovernmental organisations, and philanthropic foundations. From 2011-15 I served as the Director of the Centre for Marine and Coastal Policy Research at Plymouth University, Europe’s largest research grouping focused on ocean policy. In 2019 I joined the University of Portsmouth as the founding Director of Revolution Plastics - the pan-university mission-driven research initiative to help end plastic pollution. There are now 100 academics working on plastic-related research across the University.
I am experienced and comfortable discussing sustainability issues in the media (TV, radio, podcasts, news sites and newspapers) in live and pre-recorded formats. I have contributed to The Guardian, The Times, New Scientist, Daily Mail, BBC TV, Al Jazeera, BBC News Online, Newsround, Radio 5, BBC and independent local radio, and Voice of Islam. I recently presented a podcast for the first time. I also regularly publish in The Conversation.
My research interests include the interconnected challenges of plastic pollution, the transition to a sustainable blue economy, and overcoming the barriers to the scale-up of seascape restoration.