The fight against plastic pollution is gaining momentum as countries continue committing to end the menace.
This problem is costing the world billions of dollars in lost ecosystems, the death of flora and fauna and diseases.
To build on the growing momentum around the plastics agenda, UN Environment and the European Commission jointly hosted an event at the United Nations HQ on Tuesday to launch the UN Environment’s Global Plastics Platform.
Member states, businesses, the European Commission and UN Environment showcased their initiatives, learned from each other, and committed to fighting plastic pollution together.
The event, hosted on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, offered the opportunity for governments to officially join a ‘Race to the Top’ through the Global Plastics Platform, a network that will encourage new commitments to reduce plastic pollution and explore innovative ways to change the habits of design, production, consumption and disposal of plastics around the world, supporting the transition to a more circular economy.
Many countries across the world have made ambitious commitments to beat plastics pollution during 2018. On World Environment Day 2018, India announced to ban all single-use plastics by 2022.
Plastic bags bans have been announced in Chile, Botswana, and Peru, while Nigeria will set up recycling plants across the country, Brazil will announce a new national plan on plastics and Wales will commit to be the first “refill nation.”
The aim of the Global Plastics Platform is to provide support to countries and cities who made these ambitious commitments, by facilitating the sharing of experiences, the establishment of new policies and inspiration for new commitments.
“The Global Plastics Platform is exactly the kind of initiative we need to bring countries together in the fight against millions of tonnes of plastics that end up in our oceans each year,” Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim said.
“No one can solve the problem of plastic pollution alone, but together we will fuel global change.”
European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “The European Commission has already taken action this year to deal with the plastic items we find most often on our beaches and to transform the business model of the European plastics industry and reduce economic and industrial waste. But we share responsibility for this planet and its protection with others. A cross-border problem requires multilateral efforts, and that is why I am delighted to partner with UN Environment to tackle the different sources and effects of plastic waste together.”
Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim and First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans were joined by renowned marine biologist Sylvia Earle, who underlined the urgent need for bold, decisive action on the plastic pollution that is troubling the world’s oceans.
Government representatives and leaders from the public and private sector got to share their experiences, best practices and concerns around the phasing out or regulation of plastic products at the event, moderated by Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic magazine Susan Goldberg, Goldberg also helped to illustrate the impact of the plastic challenge with original photography and film content first published by National Geographic this year.
The UN Environment Global Plastics Platform will build on and further advance the efforts made by the European Union, the G7, the G20, the UN Environment Assembly and existing initiatives and partnerships, such as the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy, supported by the World Economic Forum, the New Plastics Economy of Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and the work of the Regional Seas Conventions across the world.
UN Environment has played a leading role in positioning plastics pollution at the top of the global agenda, placing the theme at the centre of the world’s attention for World Environment Day 2018.
By increasing global awareness and highlighting circular economy as its solution, the issue was propelled it to the top of the agenda for member states, the public and the private sector.