Connecting and catalyzing ALL of the voices central to the ocean plastics crisis to advance a global treaty for plastics.
We saw representatives from Environmental Investigation Agency and the The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions give presentations on what to expect out of UNEA 5.2 and answer questions from 130+ participants.
There were a range of presentations at Global Plastics Treat Dialogues IV from plastic experts the world over. Just some of the topics covered included:
An estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic enter our oceans each year. That’s a garbage truck and a half of plastic every minute of every day. If we delay dramatic action by just five years an additional 80 million metric tons of plastic will end in the ocean by 2040. That’s fourteen Great Pyramids or two hundred fifty Empire State Buildings worth of plastic trash
That won’t just mean more beached whales with stomachs full of plastic; the human consequences will be extreme too. Healthy ocean ecosystems absorb CO2. A dead ocean has dire consequences for the climate. Plastic has already been found in the air, in the rain, in our bodies, and in our food supply.
On January 13th, 2022, the Country Dialogues kicked off with an inaugural session in Chile. Together with Plastic Oceans Chile, we convened an online session with support from the Chilean Ministry of the Environment (MMA), WWF Chile, Acción Empresas, Circular, Master of Environmental Law UDD, among others. More than 100 representatives of universities, the private sector, and organized civil society took part.
"This national dialogue is a first step to provide an input to the negotiations on this treaty from the point of view of non-governmental sectors and to build awareness of a global policy that complements and reinforces the national actions of governments, industry and civil society,” said Mark Minneboo, Executive Director of Plastic Oceans Chile.
More sessions in Chile will take place throughout 2022. Check back here in Spring for a report on the Chile Country Dialogues.
On January 27, 2022, the US held its first session of Country Dialogues. In attendance were 100+ participants from an Activist-to-Industry network, 17 of which were representatives of US governmental organizations.
We were joined by a range of stakeholders engaging all parts of the plastics issue, including Monica Medina, Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs; legislative experts from the offices of Congressman Alan Lowenthal of California’s 47th District and Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon; environmental justice advocate Sharon Lavigne, the 2021 Goldman Prize Recipient for North America; and many more.
Due to the work of activists and industry alike on the ocean plastics issue, and the US announcing support for multilateral negotiations to begin on a global agreement Fall of 2021.
More sessions in the US will take place throughout 2022.
On February 3, 2022, Ghana kicked off its first in a series of Country Dialogues. Together with Ghana National Plastic Action Partnership and Global Plastic Action Partnership, we brought together stakeholders from universities, the private sector, waste pickers, and other parts of Ghanaian civil society.
Representatives from the following organizations participated: Ghana National Plastic Action Partnership, Global Plastic Action Partnership, Recycle Up! Ghana, Miniplast Ltd, Plastic Punch, Kwame Nkrumah' University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, and members of several informal waste picker groups.
More sessions in Ghana will take place throughout 2022. Check back here in Spring for a report on the Ghana Country Dialogues.
On February 10th and 11th, 2022, Malaysia held its inaugural session of Country Dialogues. Together with WWF-Malaysia, we convened an online session with participation from the Malaysian Plastic Manufacturers Association (MPMA), Break Free From Plastic, The Ministry of Housing and Local Government, Malaysia's Ministry of Environment and Water (KASA), and more.
At the session, KASA made the official release of their National Marine Litter Policy and Action Plan (2021 - 2030). The action plan can be found here.
On February 21 and 22, the first Country Dialogues for a Plastics Treaty were held in Indonesia. We heard from representatives of the UN Environment Programme, Global Plastic Action Partnership, World Resources Institute (WRI) Indonesia, Fiscal Policy Agency, The Incubation Network, SecondMuse, Indonesia National Plastic Action Partnership, and many more.
More sessions in Indonesia will take place throughout 2022. Check back here in Spring for a report on the Indonesia Country Dialogues.
On February 25, just three days before UNEA 5.2 voted to pursue a global plastics treaty, Pakistan held its first Country Dialogue with participation from Pakistan National Plastic Action Partnership, Lahore Conservation Society, WWF-Pakistan, Pakistan Environment Commission, and many more.
More sessions in Pakistan will take place throughout 2022. Check back here in late Spring for a report on the Pakistan Country Dialogues.
The United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson, gave a rousing statement at the inaugural Country Dialogues in Chile.
"I commend all of you for coming together today for the Chile Country Dialogues to ensure that national action on plastics begins immediately. We cannot afford to wait until the end of the negotiation process to start having these important conversations.”
Creating a global treaty is not a simple process, but at the first US Country Dialogues, Tim Grabiel from the Environmental Investigation Agency explained it step by step.
Monica Medina, Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs began our US Dialogues with a call to action:
“There is way too much plastic and it ends up in the ocean and in the environment where it can persist for centuries and degrade into microplastics that are harmful to us. It spreads to every place on this planet, from the belly of an animal in the most remote parts of Antarctica, to the highest mountaintops in the Himalayas, to the deepest trenches in the ocean.
It’s breathtaking to think that a plastic bag that we use for just 12 minutes will survive in the environment for hundreds or even thousands of years before it’s totally gone…and we have a moment now to get this global challenge under control. This is the moment to turn the tide on global plastic pollution.”
In May of 2019, OPLN gathered 165 public and private sector leaders from organizations including Coca-Cola, Dow, Greenpeace, the American Chemistry Council, the World Bank, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and representatives of some of the world’s 15 million informal waste collectors on a on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic Garbage Patch for four days. Attendees with wildly different visions, perspectives, strategies, and objectives had the opportunity to learn from one another and stretch their imaginations in the heart of the ocean plastic crisis. Boundary-pushing conversations amongst leaders that would have never seen themselves sitting in the same room together built trusting, authentic relationships that ultimately accelerated action.
Reactions from participants in the Ocean Plastics Leadership Summit in the Atlantic Garbage Patch.
157 countries to date have now publicly called for a global plastics treaty, while major reports released in recent years from industry, NGOs, and government provide a useful blueprint for discussions. WWF, Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Boston Consulting Group laid out the business case for a global treaty, and 100+ major companies have signed onto a "Business Call for a U.N. Treaty On Plastic Pollution."
Environmental NGO groups also voiced their support for a plastics treaty in a report from the Center for International Environmental Law, the Environment Investigation Agency and GAIA (Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives). The report has the backing of the Break Free from Plastic movement and Greenpeace. Finally, the Nordic Council of Ministers rolled out a 148-page report that provides a suggested framework and positioning for a future treaty.
These reports reveal there is already alignment on some fundamental points. All call for harmonized reporting on plastics throughout their life cycle, making it possible to account for everything that is being made and how it is handled..But fierce disagreements remain, The time for all parties to begin having the tough conversations required to bridge these gaps is now.
Our goals are as follows: