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4th Meeting of the Ad-hoc Open-ended Expert Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics (AHEG-4)

9-13 November 2020 | Online
Photo courtesy of Mike Muzurakis.

Marine litter and microplastics pose an increasing challenge to biodiversity that depend on the ocean, including sea creatures and sea birds, as well as to the overall health of the ocean. It is also an increasing threat to human health, with reports suggesting that humans ingest a worrying amount of plastic embedded in the food chain.

In 2017, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established an expert group to examine the problem of marine litter and microplastics address this problem and the group has met three times, in Nairobi in May 2018, meeting in Geneva, Switzerland in December 2018, and Bangkok, Thailand in November 2019.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fourth meeting of the expert group on marine litter and microplastics will convene online. Plenary sessions will take place online each day from 9 to 13 November 2020, from 1:30- 5:30 pm EAT (UTC+3).

The expert group will prepare a short summary to be presented to the fifth meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5), scheduled for February 2021. The summary will contain two broad parts: a review of the current situation and the potential response options available to tackle marine plastic pollution and microplastics. These parts are based on the legal mandates set out in UNEA resolutions 3/7 (on marine litter and microplastics), and 4/6 (on marine plastic litter and microplastics).

Under the review of the current situation, the summary is expected to include a review of the barriers to combating marine litter and microplastics, including resource challenges in developing countries. It will also take stock of existing actions to reduce marine plastic litter and microplastics by governments, regional and global instruments, international organizations, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and other relevant contributors towards the long-term elimination of discharge into the oceans. The summary will further identify technical and financial resources or mechanisms for supporting countries to address the issue.

Under the potential response options, the expert group will present a range of national, regional and international responses, innovative approaches, and voluntary and legally binding governance strategies and approaches. This will also include a discussion on the 2019 adoption of an amendment to include plastic waste under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. The summary will also address the environmental, social, and economic costs and benefits of different response options, as well as their feasibility and efficacy. The section is expected to analyze the effectiveness of existing and potential responses and determine their contribution to solving the global marine litter and microplastics challenge. Finally, the summary will present potential options for continued work to UNEA, including through partnerships. These partnerships could focus on the development of source inventories, the improvement of waste management, awareness-raising and the promotion of innovation in relation to the prevention of marine litter, including plastic litter and microplastics.

IISD, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) Meeting Coverage, will provide daily web coverage and a summary and analysis report from AHEG-4. Kindly return to this site on Monday, 9 November 2020, for more information.

AHEG-4 Resources

IISD/ENB Meeting Coverage

IISD Resources