Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Maritime Affairs


Ph.D (Maritime Affairs)


Malmö, Sweden



First Advisor

Ronán Long

Second Advisor

Zhen Sun


This research investigates the intricate and all-pervasive challenge of combatting marine litter in small island developing states (SIDS), specifically in the Wider Caribbean Region (WCR) with a focus on the understudied Windward Islands located in the south-east of the Caribbean. Notably, this research is a ground- breaking and innovative effort in several respects, marking the first time a study of such magnitude and depth has been conducted and published for the WCR and the Windward Islands in particular. This pioneering work thus not only fills a significant gap in the existing literature but also sets a benchmark for future studies in the field. Employing an investigative research methodology, a mixed-methods approach is adopted, encompassing four key data collection techniques: literature review, key informant surveys and interviews, participant observation in the Sixth Meeting of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee of the Protocol Concerning Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities in the Wider Caribbean (LBS- STAC6), and mapping and visualisation studies. In assessing the marine litter crisis and management responses in varying geographical orientations, the study utilised the source-to-sea conceptual framework of Granit et al. (2017). This comprehensive approach combines the Drivers-Pressures-State-Impacts-Responses (DPSIR) framework with the Theory of Change (ToC), offering a more integrative method for addressing marine litter challenges and opportunities to enable a solution-oriented approach to the persistent and growing environmental crisis in the Eastern Caribbean. Building on Granit et al.'s framework, and acknowledging the need for effective solutions, the Three-Framework approach for Impact evaluation of Governance in Social- Ecological Systems by Mascia et al. (2017) was referenced. Effectiveness was a pivotal aspect in the discussion, as this approach presents an additional layer for the evaluation of management measures. By defining and integrating quantifiable measures for ecological, social, and institutional effectiveness, it offers a more robust tool for analysing and managing marine litter. The source-to-sea conceptual framework was further modified by incorporating polycentric governance theory and resilience theory. By integrating polycentric governance theory, the research gains a nuanced view of multi-lateral governance in the context of marine litter management for the region. Furthermore, the inclusion of resilience theory brings in a critical perspective on how climate change interplays with marine litter, a theme that has become increasingly relevant for SIDS worldwide. This modification illustrates the need for multi-faceted, resilient, and adaptive strategies to address the environmental crisis of marine litter, thereby providing a robust foundation for informed policy-making and enhanced targeted solutions. The Findings and Discussions section delivers in-depth analysis of the results derived from the five core manuscripts that underpin this thesis. The research objectives serve as a link between the research questions and the manuscripts, aiding with organising and structuring the presentation of findings. The outcomes from each paper significantly contribute to addressing the numerous objectives and research questions set out herein. The research findings emphasise the difficulties that Windward Islands are encountering in handling marine debris, and highlights the necessity for solutions at different spatial scales, and enhancements in solid waste management in particular to effectively tackle the problem. It also identifies uncontrollable factors, many of which are related to climate change including ocean circularity concerns and the transboundary nature of the ocean, natural disasters (such as hurricanes), and other persistent frequent natural events (such as sea level rise and torrential rainfall), as well as extreme weather events that result in loss of life and flooding with other dire human, social and economic consequences for poor and vulnerable coastal communities. In particular, flash floods, mudslides, and storm surges increase the likelihood of inland debris being carried into the ocean. These issues necessitate collaborative efforts with global partners to facilitate transformative changes. The research also offers cost-effective solutions to enable ground-up implementation. Emphasising the inclusion of local perspectives in global dialogues, the study concludes that developing effective and context- specific strategies and policies is vital for addressing marine litter and its effects on ecosystems, human health and socio-economic well-being. The usefulness of resilience theory is underscored, given the emerging themes of climate change's relationship with marine litter, which became apparent during the course of the research.