On the penultimate day of the fourth Meeting of the Ad-hoc Open-ended Expert Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics (AHEG-4), delegates spent the bulk of their time considering the draft Chair’s summary. This summary will inform policy discussions on marine litter and plastic pollution at the next meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA). The seven page summary contains, among other things, a review of the current actions and activities addressing the issue, as well potential options for future work.
In their vibrant deliberations, many delegations expressed their support for a new global agreement, stressing that this should be adequately reflected in the Chair’s summary. Some noted that, given the importance of the summary in charting the path forward for marine litter and plastic pollution, those issues that garnered convergence should be highlighted rather than obscured. Some delegations also reiterated the requests at this meeting for UNEA to establish an intergovernmental negotiating committee to begin discussions on a new agreement. Other delegations noted that the AHEG discussions have brought to the fore the urgent need for international action, specifically because many voluntary measures on marine litter and plastic pollution are neither inclusive nor global.
Some others, however, were careful to note that the Chair’s summary is not a negotiated text and can thus give equal weight to all the options for further action discussed during the four meetings of the AHEG. Recalling the mandate from UNEA, they underlined the need to allow policy discussions to be conducted under the auspices of the Assembly. Some were also keen to point out that there has been no consensus nor convergence on any one response option.
The draft Chair’s summary is set to be revised to take into account written submissions and elements of Thursday’s discussion, and will be reissued on Friday.