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About Thomas Maes
Thomas Maes
Senior Scientist (Consultant)

I'm originally from Brussels but have lived a bit everywhere, I love different cultures and speak several languages. I have a wide educational background, including pre-MBA, civil engineering, terrestrial and marine biology, and started my international career as an environmental manager on large development projects for the dredging company Jan De Nul (JDN) e.g. the Palm Islands, Ras Laffan Gas Terminal, Sfax Taparura Remediation, Port Hedland Harbour.

From there, I moved on to becoming a Principal Scientist at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) in the UK, leading several projects and a team of marine experts. While working at Cefas, I also completed my PhD on the topic of marine litter at the University of Amsterdam. I was a member of several committees and working groups and the appointed UK specialist on national and international expert groups in relation to pollution in the marine environment. I coordinated several UK national and international marine monitoring programmes for EU Directives and other regional drivers. In doing so, I gained an extensive knowledge of international environmental institutes and organisations.

I provided direct advice to the UK Government on issues related to human pressures such as contaminants, waste and other pollutants. For example, I directly supported UK ministers and royals at international meetings, audits and visits. I chaired and facilitated several working groups, committees and political debates, bridging the gap between science and policy while building an extensive global network.

In the summer of 2020, I joined GRID-Arendal to tackle the challenge of pollution and waste by supporting global policy development through the UN frameworks, including UNEA and the Basel Convention. I contribute to expert working groups on waste and marine litter and develop products to inform policy-makers. Marine litter, circular economy, waste management, waste trade, sanitation and wastewater are topics that I specialise in. I help developing countries with capacity building and research on the impact of waste and marine litter, their sources and pathways. I work closely with the Regional Seas Conventions and other UN agencies to find regional and global solutions to tackle the issue of waste and marine pollution.

I have a growing list of peer reviewed publications and reports. I regularly give keynote speeches and presentations in relation to pollution at international fora.

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