Today we attended UNEP’s event titled “Marine Litter: Preventing Our Oceans From Becoming Dumps”.
The event was organized by UNEP’s GPA, i.e. “Global Programme for Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from land-Based Activities“.
The key speakers were Jane Lubchenko – replaced by an senior official in NOAA; Doug Woodring – Co-founder of the Ocean Recovery Alliance and Steve Russell – VP Plastics, at the American Chemistry Council
It was interesting to notice that UNEPs GPA has adopted the 5IMDC Honolulu strategy as a baseline for its future work and efforts on marine litter. That same hotly disputed Honolulu Strategy, that most of the NGOs at the 5IMDC refused to endorse. Yes, that same document, that made no mention of plastic pollution even as the component of greatest concern with marine debris for most of the groups attending the conference.
Interesting was also to note that the discussion revolved around recycling of plastics, and extending the productive life of this material. A lot was said about its value to society, and how it must be collected and further reused. Nothing was said at all about its proven toxicity, and how it might harm marine life in the ocean environment. And not even a speculation that this toxicity might penetrate the human food chain.
We are pleased at UNEP’s continued focus on marine litter. We will be more pleased when UNEP recognizes the increasingly damaging role of plastics in the marine environment, and adopts the language and actions commensurate with this role.
With that in mind, Plastic Pollution Coalition expressed interest in joining UNEP’s Global Partnership on Marine Litter. We continue to believe that the path to resolving the major issue of plastic pollution in our oceans is by working together. We started on this path when we attended 5IMDC and began the dialog with the other stake-holders. But we need firm commitments and measurable goals. The ocean will not wait forever for us to figure a decisive next step.
In the absence of a clearly defined plan for action, and clearly identified goals, we continue to ask all of our supporters, coalition members and partner organizations to REFUSE single use plastics, and to REDUCE their plastic footprint.