This event, taking place ahead of the fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, is co-organized with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, within the framework of the Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues, launched and discussed a note on "Aligning States Duties and Business Responsibilities with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights".

About this Session

Plastic pollution is inextricably linked to adverse human rights impacts, and businesses involved in plastics have unique capacity and responsibilities to respect human rights throughout their value chains. A clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is a human right crucial for the full enjoyment of virtually all other human rights, including the right to development. The impact of the private sector on both human rights and the environment has also been well established. There is broad and growing consensus that current patterns of plastic production, use, and disposal are causing a global health, environmental and human rights crisis.

The paper to be launched and discussed in this event examines the relationship between plastics industry value chains and the environmental and human rights harms caused throughout the plastics life cycle, and includes a case study on plastic sachets to illustrate this relationship. Given the business sector’s central role throughout the plastics life cycle, and the inherent human rights impacts at stake, a human rights approach rooted in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the UNGPs) is needed to address this crisis. The UNGPs recognize States’ duties to protect human rights from abuse by third parties, including the private sector. Businesses are expected to engage with stakeholders whose human rights they may impact through their activities or as a result of their business relationships, and take action to identify, prevent, mitigate, and, where appropriate, remedy their adverse impacts on human rights.

Leading experts joining this event discussed the opportunity provided by the Global Plastics Treaty to shape more legitimate, effective and coherent international cooperation on plastics pollution by aligning efforts with the UNGPs.

Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution 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, governments, businesses, the scientific community, civil society and individuals in the hope of informing and creating synergies and coordinated actions. The dialogues highlight what the different stakeholders in Geneva and beyond have achieved at all levels, and present the latest research and governance options.

Following the landmark resolution adopted at UNEA-5 to end plastic pollution and building on the outcomes of the first two series, the third series of dialogues will encourage increased engagement of the Geneva community with future negotiations on the matter.


By order of intervention.


Minister, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Ecuador to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva


Henry M. Jackson Professor of Law | Faculty Director, International, Transnational and Comparative Law Programs, Director, Sustainable International Development LLM Program, University of Washington School of Law


UN Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights

Mihir Kanade


Head, Department of International Law, University for Peace | Member, UN Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development


Director, Collaborations, BSR | Director, Fair Circularity Initiative (FCI) Secretariat

José Manuel MOLLER

Founder and Chairman, Algramo | Vice President of Advisory Board on Zero Waste | UNEP Champion of the Earth


Programme Officer, Environment Programme, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact


Latin America Coordinator, Law Program, WIEGO

Dharmesh SHAH

Consulting Senior Campaigner (Plastics Treaty), Environmental Health Program, Center for International Environmental Law


Corporate Campaigns Coordinator, Break Free From Plastic

Ana Paula DE SOUZA

Human Rights Officer, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights | Moderator




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