Plastic waste - Photo:Photo by Elstef form PxHere
The world is facing a plastic crisis, the status quo is not an option. Plastic pollution is a serious issue of global concern which requires an urgent and international response involving all relevant actors at different levels. Photo by Elstef form PxHere

Launch of Plastic Pollution Dialogues

“As we fight the pandemic, we produce even more plastic. Coordination is key for a more efficient response to plastic pollution”, said Bruno Pozzi, UNEP’s Europe Director at the opening of the event.

More than 170 participants joined today’s virtual launch of the new dialogue series Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution. The dialogues address the current plastic crisis and are organized in collaboration with the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS) Secretariat, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), the Global Governance Centre at the Graduate Institute, in addition to Switzerland and Norway. The first event focused on plastics and waste.

“We need to get smarter about the way we produce, use and dispose of plastics”, said Senior Advisor Ingeborg Aase Mork-Knutsen at the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment. “Plastics has many important benefits, but is a huge problem when it ends up in our environment and oceans. Today, we know that some 2 billion people lack access to basic waste management. As a truly global issue, no one country can solve this issue alone.”

Preventing pollution from plastic litter is a Norwegian priority. Norway has promoted stronger global commitment to deal with this issue since the first UN Environment Assembly in 2014, and proposed amendments to the Basel Convention for stronger control of the global trade in plastic waste in 2019.

“The plastics crisis is not only a marine issue. It is not just a waste issue. This is important as we think about possible solutions,” emphasized David Azoulay, Director of the Environmental Health Program at CIEL, and pointed out health, trade, human rights, climate and air pollution aspects. “We need to coordinate the existing instruments. We need to harmonize methods and guidelines for national measures. One country’s solution should not become another country’s problem.”

Mork-Knutsen emphasized that there is currently no global agreement to address this issue across the whole life-cycle of plastics and said that a new global agreement that addresses the issue of plastic litter from both sea-based and land-based sources will be the most effective global solution: “This current crises is in many ways due to a lack of good governance.”

The dialogue series will make recommendations and lead up to a High-Level Dialogue on Plastic Governance to be organized in February 2021.