Dr Karen Raubenheimer 

Karen Raubenheimer

Office: Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS),
ITAMS, University of Wollongong, NSW, 2522, Australia    


Karen joined ANCORS in January 2017. She obtained her PhD from ANCORS in 2016, focusing on international and regional policy frameworks . Her thesis, titled “Towards an Improved Framework to Prevent Marine Plastic Debris,” analysed measures to prevent ocean- and land-based sources of plastic pollution. The feasibility of a new legally binding international agreement and an associated global funding mechanism was reviewed. After she presented a possible model for such an agreement at the 17th meeting of the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea, titled "Marine debris, plastics and micro-plastics" she was contracted by UNEP to conduct further assessment on the effectiveness of international and regional regulatory frameworks to prevent marine litter and microplastics.

Karen also holds a Master of Environmental Management from the University of New South Wales and has a background in Information Technology. She has worked in Cape Town, London and Sydney as an IT Systems Engineer and Project Manager, consulting to a range of institutions, including the financial sector. While working for Surfrider Foundation Australia as the Operations Manager, she coordinated corporate beach cleans. In her spare time, Karen is an avid underwater photographer and always keeps an eye out for litter both in and out of the water.

Research interests:

  • International and regional governance of pollution

  • Policy to enable the Circular Economy

  • Design and regulation of the solid waste hierarchy

  • The interplay between State sovereignty and international conservation

Current Projects:

Dr. Raubenheimer was the lead researcher and author of the 2017 assessment for the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) titled: “Combating marine plastic litter and microplastics: An assessment of the effectiveness of relevant international, regional and subregional governance strategies and approaches.” The project was conducted in collaboration with Prof McIlgorm and Dr Nulifer Oral (Istanbul Bilgi University).

Karen presented the resulting report at the third meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-3) in Nairobi, December 2017. Karen has since been involved in the Ad Hoc Open Ended Expert Group meetings, as per the resolution adopted at UNEA-3 for marine litter and microplastics.

She was subsequently contracted by UNEP to develop a regional marine litter action plan design guide as well as developing a draft measurement model to calculate the national costs of marine litter. She was also involved in the development of marine litter guidelines for the APEC region and is working with Prof McIlgorm to update the 2009 report on the economics of marine litter within APEC economies.

The Pacific Region is the subject of a study Karen is currently leading as part of the Commonwealth Litter Programme.

Professional Memberships:

World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL) - IUCN


Raubenheimer, Karen and McIlgorm, Alistair (2018) "Can a global fund help solve the global marine plastic debris problem?," Journal of Ocean and Coastal Economics: Vol. 5: Iss. 1, Article 6. DOI:

Raubenheimer K, McIlgorm A, Oral N. 2018. Towards an improved international framework to govern the life cycle of plastics. RECIEL 27: 210-221.

Raubenheimer, K., McIlgorm, A. 2018. Can the Basel and Stockholm Conventions provide a global framework to reduce the impact of marine plastic litter? Marine Policy 96: 285-290.

Raubenheimer, K., McIlgorm, A., 2017. Is the Montreal Protocol a model that can help solve the global marine plastic debris problem? Marine Policy 81, 322-329.



Last reviewed: 14 December, 2018