Plastic pollution has been recognized as a major global environmental concern that requires urgent global attention. Following deliberations at the 2007 United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA 3), an ad hoc open-ended expert group was created to look at ways of combating marine plastic liter and microplastics and offer globally workable options for the member states, experts and civil society to consider. The ad hoc open-ended expert group (AHOEG) on marine litter and Microplastics was convened from May 29-31, 2018 at the United Nations Office at Nairobi, Kenya. The group looked at the barriers to and options for combating marine plastic litter and microplastics from all sources, especially land-based sources.
CYNESA was represented at this first AHOEG meeting by Allen Ottaro, David Munene and Hellen Mugo from the secretariat as well as Peter Mboye from the CYNESA Tanzania team. CYNESA is accredited by UNEP as a youth NGO that works on environmental sustainability, and is in the UNEP Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY).
Participants at the AHOEG included representatives from Governments, international and regional organizations, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, other stakeholders and major groups. The CYNESA team presented two interventions to the plenary on behalf of the MGCY, emphasizing the need for urgent action to be taken to address the menace of plastic pollution including marine plastic litter and Microplastics.
The AHOEG group looked into the following issues in plenary:
- All barriers to combating marine litter and microplastics, including resource challenges experienced in developing countries;
- National, regional and international response options, including actions and innovative approaches, and voluntary and legally binding governance strategies and approaches;
- The environmental, social and economic costs and benefits of various response options;
- The feasibility and effectiveness of these different response options and
- Identification of potential options for continued work for consideration by the United Nations Environment Assembly.
The UNEP Secretariat had presented these 3 main response options to be discussed by the AHOEG:
- Maintain Status Quo
- Revise and strengthen existing frameworks, adding relevant components to address industry
- New global architecture with multi-layered governance approach (including the implementation of option 2 as the new architecture is negotiated).
The AHOEG came up with recommendations for what should be done going forth, to address the challenge of marine litter and Microplastics. These included continued dialogues with international and regional organizations, multilateral environmental agreements and to submit a concise summary of challenges in addressing marine litter under their respective instruments and activities. The group also recognized the need for further analysis on response actions categorized into the short, medium, and long term, including up-stream and down-stream approaches.
A second AHOEG group was scheduled to take place in November 2018. The co-chairs of the May meeting noted that increased engagement such as workshop-style facilitation would be useful in advancing the discussion to identify potential options for continued work that could be considered by the UN Environment Assembly and to give priority to short-term solutions taking into consideration the nature of the problem. They also welcomed the participation of national focal points in addition to experts to deepen the discussion on governance on marine litter and microplastics for the November meeting.
CYNESA Board Member.