On Friday, the ad-hoc open-ended expert group on marine litter and microplastics met for the last time. They heard from Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, who outlined that addressing marine pollution was a key part of the Programme’s medium-term strategy to be discussed in 2021. She underlined that, as the expert group was completing its mandate, the momentum built towards action on marine litter and microplastics would be carried forward through the further development of the Global Partnership on Marine Litter.
The group then considered a revised draft of the Chair’s summary, which is the main outcome of the entire expert group process. Chair Satoru Iino (Japan) described the revisions, noting that they were a reflection of discussions held on Thursday and constituted his approach to presenting a neutral and factual summary to inform the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly. Several delegations expressed their support for the revised draft, with some providing further suggestions for textual amendments to better reflect their positions and discussions. Delegates supported the summary as a balance of views shared during the entire AHEG process, acknowledging that the document was not a negotiated outcome. However, several reiterated their hope that the summary would include stronger language on the need to establish a negotiating process towards a new global agreement on plastic pollution.
With this being the final meeting of the expert group, several delegations reflected on the work done since the group’s inception in May 2018. Delegations welcomed all the progress made in responding to calls from the global community to begin the urgent work of addressing marine litter and microplastics. They also acknowledged the role of the Secretariat in organizing the meetings and preparing the documents on which their discussions were based. For this meeting in particular, many lauded the online platform Interprefy for providing a space for them to participate as fully as possible in the process, albeit through some ongoing technical challenges.
After brief remarks from Susan Gardner, UN Environment Programme, Chair Iino called on delegates to keep working collaboratively to address the marine litter challenge. He closed the meeting at 5:02 pm EAT (UTC +3)