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Italian Consulate in Hong Kong organises seminar on ocean micro-plastics

Event at HKU on June 17 will explore efforts of the business community to tackle marine conservation issues

author icon By APB Staff | 10 June 2021

This year, Italy is president of G20 and joint president of the COP26 climate change conference.

It’s prime time for Italian industry and businesses to place focus on issues of climate change, the environment, and the reversal of biodiversity loss.

The academic community of Italy and Hong Kong are joining on June 17 at the University of Hong Kong in a hybrid seminar and roundtable event designed to foster collaborations between academia and the business community. 

The event, which is free to attend either in person or remotely, will focus on the problem of micro-plastic pollution at sea. It begins with a series of academic presentations by experts from different fields followed by a roundtable of Italian businesses, whose representatives will discuss the opportunities as well as challenges of embarking on a sustainable journey.

“We are pioneers in marine protection – we live on the Mediterranean, and the ocean is not just part of our economy, it’s part of our culture!” explains Consul-General of Italy in Hong Kong Clemente Contestabile, in an interview with Asia-Pacific Boating.

“We have to keep the Mediterranean sustainable not just because of the fish, but because it’s a major source of wealth. There are 250 billion fragments of micro-plastic in the Mediterranean. That affects both the biodiversity and tourists. Plastic is an issue in Italy, as well as here in Hong Kong.”

Contestabile, who is a keen sailor, explains the event has been devised as part of community outreach on the issue. “It’s a mix of academia and companies: the researchers will elaborate on the challenges and opportunities of plastic pollution, and companies will talk about their efforts to make the supply chain and merchandise more sustainable.”

Clemente Contestabile

Contestabile hopes the event will raise awareness of the issue in Hong Kong. “I don’t see here the same tension [on the issue] that I see in Italy,” he says. “Ultimately, if you want the private sector involved you need to give incentives.”

Academics taking part include Dr Stefano Cannicci from the School of Biological Sciences at HKU’s Swire Institute of Marine Science and Prof Maria Cristina Fossi, professor of ecology and ecotoxicology at the University of Siena. 

Joining them are a panel of business leaders, including Livia Mazzoni, sustainability manager at Salvatore Ferragamo, and Edoardo Sabatino, head of sustainable finance in APAC for Intesa Sanpaolo. 

“I think those who are living in the ocean can feel how fragile the ecosystem is and they understand they can contribute to its sustainable balance between its use and the sea,” says Contestabile. “The ocean is an integral part of the yachting experience. I like sailing, I like sailing boats, and really you have to make that experience sustainable or you just lose the pleasure.

“I see many of the big Italian yacht builders – Ferretti, Sanlorenzo, Azimut – they are all working on different tech solutions to minimise the impact of the big yachts and make their performance sustainable for the ocean. But you also need the owners of the yacht to understand the impact of their yacht on the surrounding environment.”

 

Contestabile reveals that the Consulate is also trying to arrange a “Sailing Against Plastic” regatta in Hong Kong later in 2021, which would bring boaters together in a day of social sailing, while collecting plastic waste from the water. Details are still to be confirmed.

“[These plastic regattas] are tradition in many places in Italy and it’s become part of our social practice in many places. This is something we would love to [put in place] for the local community.”

Reading through ‘Plastics in our oceans’

Date: June 17, 2021
Time: 2.30pm-6.10pm
Location: Chong Yuet Ming Physics Building LG1-CYPP2, The University Of Hong Kong
RSVP: Free for remote or physical attendance.
Website: More information can be found at www.icc.org.hk/