Tearfund appoints Resource Futures to quantify plastic-aggravated flooding

7 March 2023

Commissioned by the international relief and development agency Tearfund, Resource Futures will research how plastic pollution contributes to flooding events, the associated human health impacts, and to what extent it is getting worse, by exploring future trends in consumer plastic usage, population growth and climate change.

A key objective of this research is to estimate how many people are at risk of plastic-aggravated flooding. A figure that, to the best of our knowledge, has never been produced.  

With United Nations (UN) member states currently negotiating a global treaty on plastic pollution, the main objective of this research is to bring to light new evidence on plastic-aggravated flooding events and the negative consequences these events have on human health.

The research will broaden the focus from high-income countries, highlighting the impact that mismanaged plastic pollution is having on the health and well-being of marginalised populations living in low to middle-income countries.

One of the core obligations proposed in UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) recent paper outlining potential options for elements towards an international legally binding instrument is ‘protecting human health from the adverse effects of plastic pollution.’ A key way they propose to do this is to conduct further research on the adverse effects of plastic and plastic pollution on human health.

This research sets out to do just that. It will be completed in time for the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution being held in Paris between 29 May and 2 June.

This report is timely and important in highlighting the truly global issue of plastic pollution and human health.

With international leaders joined in their ambition towards developing an international treaty on plastic pollution, quantifying the impact of plastic-aggravated flooding events on human populations is crucial to strengthening the case for urgent action against plastic pollution. The important connection between plastic pollution and human health in low-income countries must not be overlooked.

Brendan Cooper, Consultant and Project Manager at Resource Futures

The research will involve a high-level literature review and a series of interviews with key stakeholders based in countries that have experienced plastic-aggravated flooding events, or who are specialists in the fields of urban flooding and climate change.

From the literature review, and through qualitative information provided by the stakeholders interviewed, a methodology for developing a global statistic of the total number of people impacted by plastic-aggravated flooding will be developed to quantify the issue.