23 Sep 2021
13:30

Venue: Online | Webex

This virtual side-event to the 48th Session of the Human Right Council, is convened by the Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights, Marcos Orellana, within the framework of the Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues and Geneva Toxic Free Talks, and co-sponsored by Ecuador and the European Union. In view of upcoming debates on whether to initiate negotiations toward a new plastics treaty at the next UN Environment Assembly in February 2022, this timely event will explore the impacts of plastics on human rights, as well as the elements of a human rights-based approach in a new legally binding global instrument.

About this Session

Over the past few years, numerous scientific studies have revealed the magnitude of the threat of plastics for people and the environment. The evidence regarding the volume of plastic production and the toxic additives in plastics is clear and overwhelming.

The complexity of plastics is unlike other problems that the international community has confronted. Indeed, the plastic crisis involves issues of biodiversity, technology and trade, among others. But plastics also have serious impacts on people and their rights.

Every stage of the plastic lifecycle affects human rights. These impacts include toxic pollution released in manufacturing, exposure to toxic additives in plastic consumer products, and waste mismanagement. Human rights principles are thus critical to support legitimate and effective responses.

Human rights principles can and should be involved in the transition towards a chemically safe circular economy. For example, extended producer responsibility arrangements, that apply principles of prevention, precaution, and polluter-payer, are key to addressing environmental injustices that arise in international trade of plastics.

Assessment of alternatives are also important to avoid misleading or false solutions. For example, at current levels of technology, plastic production, and toxic additives in plastics, less than 10% of plastic waste is recycled. Recycling is thus currently more of a mirage that creates an optical illusion. Similarly, open burning and incineration generate toxic dioxins and other persistent organic pollutants that are extremely harmful to human health and the environment.

In view of upcoming debates on whether to initiate negotiations toward a new plastics treaty at the next UN Environment Assembly in February 2022, this timely event will explore the impacts of plastics on human rights, as well as the elements of a human rights-based approach in a new legally binding global instrument. It will refer to the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on “The stages of the plastics cycle and their impacts on human rights“, to be presented this fall to the UN General Assembly.

Speakers

By order of intervention.

H.E. Amb. Emilio IZQUIERDO

Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva

H.E. Amb. Thomas WAGNER

Deputy Permanent Representative of the European Union to the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva

Marcos ORELLANA

UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights

Hemantha WITHANAGE

Senior Advisor, Centre for Environmental Justice & Chairperson, Friends of the Earth International

H.E. Amb. Silvia Elena ALFARO ESPINOSA

Permanent Representative of Peru to the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva

Carlos MARTIN-NOVELLA

Deputy Executive Secretary, Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions

Moustapha Kamal GUEYE

Global Coordinator, Green Jobs Programme, ILO

Marce GUTIÉRREZ-GRAUDIŅŠ

Executive Director, Azul

David AZOULAY | Moderator

Director, Health and Environment Programme, CIEL

Agenda

Opening Remarks

  • H.E. Amb. Emilio IZQUIERDO | Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva
  • H.E. Amb. Thomas WAGNER | Deputy Permanent Representative, European Union

Presentation of the Report to the UNGA

  • Marcos ORELLANA | UN Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights

Illegal Waste Trade and Related Disasters

  • Hemantha WITHANAGE | Senior Advisor, Centre for Environmental Justice & Chairperson, Friends of the Earth International

UNEA-5 Resolution : Internationally Legally Binding Instrument on Plastic Pollution

  • H.E. Amb. Silvia Elena ALFARO ESPINOSA | Permanent Representative of Peru to the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva

Discussants

  • Carlos MARTIN-NOVELLA | Deputy Executive Secretary, Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
  • Moustapha Kamal GUEYE | Global Coordinator, Green Jobs Programme, ILO
  • Marce GUTIÉRREZ-GRAUDIŅŠ | Executive Director, Azul

Q&A

Closing

Registration

This session will take place online. Kindly register directly on the Webex platform.

The Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights

About the Mandate

The mandate on hazardous substances and wastes was first established in 1995 by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (Commission Resolution 1995/81). Today, it is under UN Human Rights Council Resolution A/HRC/RES/45/17 of 2020.

Learn More About the Mandate and Resolution →

Current Mandate Holder

Marcos A. Orellana was appointed Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights (full title – Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes) in August 2020. He is an expert in international law and the law on human rights and the environment. His practice as legal advisor has included work with United Nations agencies, governments and non-governmental organizations.

Read Marcos A. Orellana’s full biography →

About the Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution and Free Toxic Talks

Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues

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.

This event is part of the second series of dialogues, organized by the Geneva Environment Network in collaboration with: the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions Secretariat; the Center for International Environmental Law; the Global Governance Centre at the Graduate Institute; IUCN; Norway; Switzerland; and the Forum on Trade, Environment & the SDGs (TESS).

Geneva Toxic Free Talks

Geneva is a central place for those struggling against the threat of contamination by the use of toxic substances. As the Special Rapporteur reports every Fall to the Human Right Council and to the UN General Assembly on these issues, the Geneva Toxic Free Talks take the momentous opportunity in the year to reflect on the challenges posed by the production, use and dissemination of toxics and on how Geneva contributes to bringing together those working in reversing the toxic tide.

Documents

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