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  You're here: Projects > Marine litter activity > UN  concerns on the marine litter issue

UN concerns on the marine litter issue

In the Rio+20 outcome document, marine litter/debris is considered as one of the major concerns as it negatively affects the health of oceans and marine biodiversity, therefore it calls for actions to achieve significant reductions in marine debris by 2025 to prevent harm to the coastal and marine environment (paragraph 163 of The Future We Want). In The Oceans Compact which was launched during the Yeosu Expo 2012, UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon further calls upon all countries to set relevant national targets for nutrients, marine debris and waste water to protect people and improve the health of the oceans.

Recalling the concern reflected in “The future we want”, the United Nations Environment Assembly of UNEP at its first session adopted on 27 June 2014 the resolution 1/6 on Marine plastic debris and microplastics (shown below).

Marine litter (debris) issue was addressed at the 60th and 63rd UN General Assembly held in October 2005 and in September 2008, respectively, and was reflected in resolutions (as shown further below).

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Marine plastic debris and microplastics (2014)

 

The United Nations Environment Assembly,

Recalling the concern reflected in the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, entitled “The future we want”,1 that the health of oceans and marine biodiversity are negatively affected by marine pollution, including marine debris, especially plastic, persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals and nitrogen-based compounds, from numerous marine and land-based sources, and the commitment to take action to significantly reduce the incidence and impacts of such pollution on marine ecosystems,

Noting the international action being taken to promote the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle and waste in ways that lead to the prevention and minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment,

Recalling the Manila Declaration on Furthering the Implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities adopted by the Third Intergovernmental Review Meeting on the Implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities, which highlighted the relevance of the Honolulu Strategy and the Honolulu Commitment and recommended the establishment of a global partnership on marine litter,

Taking note of the decisions adopted by the eleventh Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity on addressing the impacts of marine debris on marine and coastal biodiversity,

Recalling that the General Assembly declared 2014 the International Year of Small Island Developing States and that such States have identified waste management among their priorities for action,

Noting with concern the serious impact which marine litter, including plastics stemming from land and sea-based sources, can have on the marine environment, marine ecosystem services, marine natural resources, fisheries, tourism and the economy, as well as the potential risks to human health;

1. Stresses the importance of the precautionary approach according to which lack of full scientific certainty should not be used for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation, where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage;

2. Recognizes the significant risks arising from the inadequate management and disposal of plastic and the need to take action;

3. Encourages Governments, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, industry and other relevant actors to cooperate with the Global Partnership on Marine Litter in its implementation of the Honolulu Strategy and to facilitate information exchange through the online marine litter network;

4. Recognizes that plastics, including microplastics, in the marine environment are a rapidly increasing problem due to their large and still increasing use combined with the inadequate management and disposal of plastic waste, and because plastic debris in the marine environment is steadily fragmenting into secondary microplastics;

5. Also recognizes the need for more knowledge and research on the source and fate of microplastics and their impact on biodiversity, marine ecosystems and human health, noting recent knowledge that such particles can be ingested by biota and could be transferred to higher levels in the marine food chain, causing adverse effects;

6. Notes that microplastics may also contribute to the transfer in the marine ecosystems of persistent organic pollutants, other persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic substances and other contaminants which are in or adhere to the particles;

7. Recognizes that microplastics in the marine environment originate from a wide range of sources, including the breakdown of plastic debris in the oceans, industrial emissions and sewage and run-off from the use of products containing microplastics;

8. Emphasizes that further urgent action is needed to address the challenges posed by marine plastic debris and microplastics, by addressing such materials at source, by reducing pollution through improved waste management practices and by cleaning up existing debris and litter;

 

9. Welcomes the establishment of the Global Partnership on Marine Litter launched in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012 and the convening of the first Partnership Forum in 2013;

10. Also welcomes the adoption by the contracting parties to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention) at its eighteenth ordinary meeting, held in Istanbul, Turkey, from 3 to 6 December 2013, of the Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter Management, the world’s first such action plan, and welcomes the draft Action Plan on Marine Litter for the North-East Atlantic region awaiting adoption by the Commission of the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic at its meeting in Cascais, Portugal, and encourages Governments to collaborate through relevant regional seas conventions and river commissions with a view to adopting such action plans in their regions;

11. Requests the Executive Director to support countries, upon their request, in the development and implementation of national or regional action plans to reduce marine litter;

12. Welcomes the initiative by the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection to produce an assessment report on microplastics, which is scheduled to be launched in November 2014;

13. Also welcomes the work undertaken by the International Whaling Commission on assessing the impacts of marine debris on cetaceans and the endorsement by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals at its tenth meeting of resolution 10.4, addressing the impacts of marine debris on migratory species;

14. Requests the Executive Director, in consultation with other relevant institutions and stakeholders, to undertake a study on marine plastic debris and marine microplastics, building on existing work and taking into account the most up-to-date studies and data, focusing on:

 

(a) Identification of the key sources of marine plastic debris and microplastics;

(b) Identification of possible measures and best available techniques and environmental practices to prevent the accumulation and minimize the level of microplastics in the marine environment;

(c) Recommendations for the most urgent actions;

 

(d) Specification of areas especially in need of more research, including key impacts on the environment and on human health;

(e) Any other relevant priority areas identified in the assessment of the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection;

15. Invites the secretariats of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal and relevant organizations involved in pollution control and chemicals and waste management and the secretariats of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on Migratory Species and the regional seas conventions and action plans to contribute to the study described in paragraph 14 of the present resolution;

16. Encourages Governments and the private sector to promote the more resource-efficient use and sound management of plastics and microplastics;

17. Also encourages Governments to take comprehensive action to address the marine plastic debris and microplastic issue through, where appropriate, legislation, enforcement of international agreements, provision of adequate reception facilities for ship-generated wastes, improvement of waste management practices and support for beach clean-up activities, as well as information, education and public awareness programmes;

18. Invites Governments, intergovernmental organizations, the scientific community, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and other stakeholders to share relevant information with the Executive Director pertinent to the study described in paragraph 14;

19. Invites those in a position to do so to provide financial and other support to conduct the study identified in paragraph 14;

20. Requests the Executive Director to present the study on microplastics for the consideration of the United Nations Environment Assembly at its second session.

 

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Resolution S/60/L.22 (2005)

Oceans and the law of the sea  

65. Notes the lack of information and data on marine debris, encourages relevant national and international organizations to undertake further studies on the extent and nature of the problem, also encourages States to develop partnerships with industry and civil society to raise awareness of the extent of the impact of marine debris on the health and productivity of the marine environment and consequent economic loss;

66. Urges States to integrate the issue of marine debris within national strategies dealing with waste management in coastal zone, ports and maritime industries, including recycling, reuse, reduction and disposal, and to encourage the development of appropriate economic incentives to address this issue, including the development of coastal recovery systems that provide an incentives to use port reception facilities and discourage ships form discharging marine debris at sea, and encourages States to cooperative regionally and subregionally to develop and implement joint prevention and recovery programme for marine debris;

67. Invites International Maritime Organization, in consultation with relevant organizations and bodies, to review annex V to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto, and to assess its effectiveness in addressing sea-based sources of marine debris;

68. Welcomes the continued work of the International Maritime Organization relating to port waste reception facilities, and notes the work done to identify problem areas and develop an action plan addressing inadequacy of such facilities;

69. Calls upon States to take all appropriate measures to control, reduce and minimize, to the fullest extent possible, marine pollution from land-based sources as part of their national sustainable development strategies and programmes, in an integrated and inclusive manner, and to advance the implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities and the Montreal Declaration on the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities;

70. Welcomes the convening of the Second Intergovernmental Review Meeting of the Global Programme of Action in Beijing from 16 to 20 October 2006 as an opportunity to discuss marine debris in relation to the sources categories of the Global Programme of Action, and urges broad high-level participation;

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Resolution A/60/L. 31 (2005)

Sustainable fisheries, including through the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, and related instruments

77. Calls upon States, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme, in particular its Regional Seas programme, regional and subregional fisheries management organizations and arrangements and other appropriate intergovernmental organizations that have not yet done so to take action to address the issue of lost or abandoned fishing gear and related marine debris, including through the collection of data on gear loss, economic costs to fisheries and other sectors, and the impact on marine ecosystems;

78. Encourages close cooperation and coordination, as appropriate, between States, relevant intergovernmental organizations, United Nations programmes and other bodies, such as the Food and Agriculture of the United Nations, the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations Environmental Programme, the Global Programme of Action, the Regional Seas arrangements, regional and subregional fisheries management organizations and arrangements and relevant stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations, to address the issue of lost and discarded fishing gear and related marine debris, through initiatives such as analysis of the implementation and effectiveness of the existing measures relevant to the control and management of derelict fishing gears and related marine debris, the development and implementation of targeted studies to determine the socio-economic, technical and other factors that influence the accidental loss and deliberate disposal of fishing gear at sea, the assessment and implementation of preventive measures, incentives and/or disincentives relating to the loss and disposal of fishing gear at sea, and the development of best management practices;

79. Encourages States, directly and through regional and subregional fisheries management organizations and arrangements, and in close cooperation and coordination with relevant stakeholders, to address the issue of lost and discarded fishing gear and related marine debris, through initiatives including developing and implementing joint prevention and recovery programmes, establishing a clearing-house mechanism to facilitate the sharing of information between States on fishing net types and other fishing gear, the regular, long-term collection, collation and dissemination of information on derelict fishing gear, and national inventories of net types and other fishing gear, as appropriate;

80. Encourages States, the United Nations Environmental Programme, the Global Programme of Action, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Maritime Organization, subregional and regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements and other relevant intergovernmental organizations and programmes to consider the outcomes of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Education and Outreach Seminar on Derelict Fishing Gear and Related Marine Debris, held in January 2004, and how they may be implemented;

81. Encourages States to raise awareness within their fisheries sector and subregional and regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements of the issues of derelict fishing gear and related marine debris and to identify options for action;

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Resolution A/63/L.42 (2008)

Oceans and the law of the sea  

16. Also recognizes the need to build the capacity of developing States to raise awareness of and support the implementation of improved waste management practices, noting the particular vulnerability of small island developing States to the impact of marine pollution from land-based sources and marine debris;

106. Welcomes the activities of the United Nations Environment Programme relating to marine debris carried out in cooperation with relevant United Nations bodies and organizations, and encourages States to further develop partnerships with industry and civil society to raise awareness of the extent of the impact of marine debris on the health and productivity of the marine environment and consequent economic loss;

107. Urges States to integrate the issue of marine debris into national strategies dealing with waste management in the coastal zone, ports and maritime industries, including recycling, reuse, reduction and disposal, and to encourage the development of appropriate economic incentives to address this issue, including the development of cost recovery systems that provide an incentive to use port reception facilities and discourage ships from discharging marine debris at sea, and encourages States to cooperate regionally and subregionally to develop and implement joint prevention and recovery programmes for marine debris.

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Resolution A/63/L.43 (2008)

Sustainable fisheries, including through the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, and related instruments

111. Reaffirms the importance it attaches to paragraphs 77 to 81 of resolution 60/31 concerning the issue of lost, abandoned, or discarded fishing gear and related marine debris and the adverse impacts such debris and derelict fishing gear have on, inter alia, fish stocks, habitats and other marine species, and urges accelerated progress by States and regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements in implementing those paragraphs of the resolution.