Beat Marine Plastic Pollution: UN experts examine options

Important meeting in Geneva, 3 to 7 December 2018, assesses how to improve governance for tackling marine plastic pollution.

Marine plastic pollution is one of the most visible and pressing environmental concerns of our time. With an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic in our seas, 80-90% of which has come from land-based sources[1], the high public profile of this issue is understandable. Reducing waste generation at source, and improving waste management thereafter, would go a long way towards solving this problem.

With that goal in mind, staff from the BRS Secretariat, led by Executive Secretary Rolph Payet, participate in the 2nd Meeting of the Ad-Hoc Expert Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics, convening in the Palais des Nations, Geneva from 3 to 7 December 2018.

In reviewing a report which details gaps in the international policy framework, and in recommending future policy priority actions and responses, this meeting is designed to improve governance and bring forward proposals for consideration at the next United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-4) which takes place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 11 to 15 March 2019. This Assembly, which is the highest-level decision-making body on environmental issues in the world, is expected to address measures and commitments to tackle marine plastic pollution through its focus on “Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production.”

The Basel Convention can offer an important part of the solution. In addition to its provisions aimed at controlling the exports of hazardous wastes and wastes generated from households (where a large amount of plastic waste originates) and ensuring their environmentally sound management, the Convention also seeks to tackle the problem at source through prevention and minimisation. Technical guidelines, guidance documents, and manuals have been developed to provide governments and stakeholders with real solutions to prevent and minimise their waste, to develop inventories of waste generated, and to develop infrastructure and effective techniques to ensure its proper recycling and disposal.

For more details on how the Basel Convention contributes to efforts for tackling marine plastic litter, see:

For more information on how the BRS Secretariat is contributing, contact BRS Programme Officer Kei Ohno Woodall by email on:

Conventions join forces to Beat Plastic Pollution

On the margins of the meeting, on Friday 7th December at 1.30pm, a side event takes place in Room 4, marking strengthened cooperation on tackling marine litter between the UN Environment/Mediterranean Action Plan - Barcelona Convention, and the BRS conventions.

[1] Data from “Marine litter plastics and microplastics and their toxic chemicals components: the need for urgent preventive measures” by Frederic Gallo et. al. in Environmental Sciences Europe 2018; 30(1): 13. Online at: