This official side event to the UN Ocean Conference was organized by the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), University of Gothenberg, Swedish Institute for Marine Environment & Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) in collaboration with the Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues. The event took place in hybrid format, physically in Lisbon and online (13:30-15:00 Lisbon time, 14:30-16:00 Geneva time).

About this Session

The planetary boundaries concept presents a set of nine boundaries that when crossed increases the risk of generating large-scale abrupt or irreversible environmental changes. The ocean is the chemical sector’s global dumpsite, where beyond the visible plastic pollution, new science is revealing a much more insidious global threat: the escalating chemical production and invisible pollution crisis.

In 2022 the crisis was revealed as the planetary boundaries of chemical pollution were assessed and published in the study Outside the Safe Operating Space of the Planetary Boundary for Novel Entities. In this innovative peer reviewed publication, a group of 14 internationally renowned scientists concluded that rates of production and release of hazardous chemicals used to make plastics, pesticides and industrial chemicals exceeds these boundaries.

These results are of grave concern, as the stability of global ecosystems upon which humanity depends is on course to collapse. For this event, the researchers behind the paper introduced and discussed this complex problem describing the main drivers of pollution and its consequences. Further they discussed how pollution influences biodiversity integrity and how this is reflected in a social-human dimension. The current chemical production rates far exceed our ability to assess and regulate safety of chemicals and products, and waste management policies and infrastructures cannot prevent release into the environment.

The researchers are calling for ambitious action capping new production of plastics. Policy makers, international media actors and public interest stakeholders joined the conversation with a focus on how to scale up the action based on science, collective action, policy and management. The main goal of this side-event and contribution to the conference is to form new partnerships, communicate the need for a more progressive chemical policy and management and to speed up the formation and implementation of an International Panel on Chemical Pollution, IPCP.

The 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, 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. These include the meetings of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) from the second half of 2022 to 2024, as well as preparatory meetings within the ad-hoc open-ended working group during the first half of 2022. The series will also continue to foster stronger cooperation and coordinated actions ahead of other milestones in the environmental agenda, including the BRS COPs, SAICM ICCM5, the 2022 UN Ocean Conference, UNEA-6 and other processes in Geneva, such as at the WTO.

Speakers

By order of intervention

Prof. Lena GIPPERTH

Professor in environmental law and member of the Centre for Sea and Society, University of Gothenburg | Moderator

Prof. Martin HASSELLÖV

Professor in Analytical Environmental Chemistry, Department of Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg

Prof. Bethanie CARNEY ALMROTH

Professor in Ecotoxicology, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg

Björn BEELER

General Manager and International Coordinator, International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN)

H.E. Luis VAYAS

Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ecuador

Jessica BROWN

Head of Engagement, Back to Blue Initiative, The Economist

Therese KARLSSON

Science and Technical Advisor, IPEN

Summary

To be continued.

Highlights

Here are several highlights of the event from our Twitter.

Video

In addition to the live WebEx and social media transmissions, the video of the event is available on this webpage.

IPEN Exposing Problems From Toxic Chemicals in Plastics

Documents

Links

Side Event partners resources

International Geneva is mobilized for the UN Ocean Conference

The resource page on Plastics and the Environment provides further information on the impacts of plastic pollution on people and the planet, the current activities ongoing in Geneva and beyond to address the plastic crisis, with the latest scientific findings and news on the matter.

Gallery

Credit

Ocean Image Bank | Srikanth Mannepuri