Beating Plastic Pollution: UN agencies in Geneva join forces to reduce, re-use, recycle and refuse

Joint appeal from the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, UN Environment, and United Nations Office at Geneva to minimise the use of single-use plastics across International Geneva.

2019 is an important year for the international community as it works together to tackle marine plastic pollution. The sound management of chemicals and waste, including plastic waste, is on the agenda of the forthcoming 4th UN Environment Assembly (Nairobi, 11-15 March; and the BRS Triple COPs (Geneva, 29 April-10 May).

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.

Reflecting that importance and urgency, the BRS Secretariat, led by Executive Secretary Rolph Payet, has joined forces with UN Environment, and the UN Office in Geneva, in encouraging all UN entities and partner organisations across International Geneva to collectively minimise single-use plastics within UN premises, at meetings, and at events organised by the UN in Geneva.

Simple steps such as re-using coffee cups, carrying a re-useable water bottle, and ordering takeaway food in a re-useable packaging container can significantly lower the accumulation of plastics from UN facilities.

The BRS Secretariat is proud that its meetings are already paperless and carbon-neutral. This latest initiative (see letter as pdf) will further help to make the meetings and operations of the Secretariat more sustainable, in line with pan-UN efforts under the “Greening the Blue” initiative and in a spirit of not just “talking the talk” but also “walking the walk”.

For more information on how the BRS Secretariat is working on tackling marine plastic litter, contact BRS Programme Officer Kei Ohno Woodall by email on:

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

For more details on the UN “Greening the Blue” initiative, see:  

[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: