21 Jan 2021

Venue: Online | Webex

Organization: Geneva Environment Network

The Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues aim to facilitate further engagement and discussion among the stakeholders in International Geneva and beyond. In addition, they intend to address the plastic crisis and support coordinated approaches that can lead to more efficient decision making.

About the Dialogues

The world is facing a plastic crisis, the status quo is not an option. Plastic pollution is a serious issue of global concern which requires an urgent and international response involving all relevant actors at different levels. Many initiatives, projects and governance responses and options have been developed to tackle this major environmental problem, but we are still unable to cope with the amount of plastic we generate. In addition, there is a lack of coordination which can better lead to a more effective and efficient response.

Various actors in Geneva are engaged in rethinking the way we manufacture, use, trade and manage plastics. The Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues aim at outreaching and creating synergies among these actors, highlighting efforts made by intergovernmental organizations and governments, businesses, the scientific community, civil society and individuals in the hope of informing and creating stronger synergies and coordinated actions. The dialogues will also look at what the different stakeholders have achieved at all levels, present the latest research and governance options.

In addition, although the dialogues target stakeholders from all continents, they primarily aim to encourage increased engagement of the Geneva community in the run-up to various global environmental negotiations, such as:

This first session of dialogues will end in February 2021 to build momentum towards the first session of UNEA-5. It will aim to facilitate further engagement and discussions among the International Geneva stakeholders and actors across the regions and support coordinated approaches that can lead to more efficient global decision making. It will also intend to provide a platform to further carry the discussion from the recently conclude Ad Hoc Open-Ended Expert Group (AHEG) on Marine Litter and Microplastics towards UNEA-5 part 2 in 2022.

The Plastics and Climate and Health session is the fourth dialogue to be organized leading to and making recommendations towards the High-Level Dialogue on Plastic Governance Dialogue in February 2021.

The dialogues are organized in collaboration with the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions Secretariat, the Center for International Environmental Law, the Global Governance Centre at the Graduate Institute, Norway, and Switzerland.

Plastics and Health

Research has shown that exposure to plastic is expanding into new areas of the environment and the food chain, as plastic products can fragment into smaller particles and toxic chemicals.

Plastic and its impact on human health remain poorly understood. Humans are exposed to a large variety of toxic chemicals and microplastics through inhalation, ingestion, and direct skin contact, throughout the plastic lifecycle. According to WWF, on average people could be ingesting approximately five grams of plastic every week, which is the equivalent weight of a credit card. Other recent studies have also detected microplastics in human placentas.

Microplastics contain chemical additives, which can leach out of the microplastic. They can also bind and accumulate toxic chemicals from the surrounding environment, such as seawater and sediment, functioning as carriers for toxic compounds. Plastic produced from biomass sources, often called biodegradable plastic or bioplastic and promoted as more ecological than traditional plastic, contain similar chemical additives as conventional plastic and also have endocrine-disrupting effects.

Civil society organizations have been alerting that plastic threatens human health on a global scale, and that the international community is not engaging enough to handle this problem.

Leading experts at this session will summarize the most recent research findings on the impacts of plastics on our health and discuss the current processes ongoing at the global level to address the issue.

Other Sessions



Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, WHO


Chief, Chemicals and Health Branch, UNEP

Valentina SIERRA

Permanent Mission of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva, Vice-President of ICCM5


Senior Research Fellow, School of Engineering, University of Newcastle


Science Advisor, IPEN


National Geographic Expedition Leader and Explorer

Miguel PEREZ-LA PLANTE (moderator)

Health Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations Office and to the other international organizations in Geneva


This event will take place on Webex and Facebook live. Kindly register directly on the Webex platform.


In addition to the live WebEx and Facebook transmissions, the video will be available on this webpage.



The update on Plastics and the Environment provides relevant information and the most recent research, data and articles from the various organizations in international Geneva and other institutions around the world.

Plastics and Health