All you need to know about the UN's pathbreaking move towards ending plastic pollution
The rate at which the use of plastic is escalating is mind-boggling. There was a time when its use was limited to only a few items, but today when we look around us, there is hardly anything that does not have plastic in it. An eye-opening report put forward by the UN agency throws light on this by showing how plastic pollution soared from only two million metric tonnes in 1950 to 348 million metric tonnes in 2017.
Why is plastic waste a menace?
What is even more terrifying is the fact that about 85 percent of marine waste is comprised of plastic. It is posing a life-threatening risk to marine life, affecting more than 800 marine and coastal species, rendering many vulnerable, and pushing some on the verge of extinction. This takes place as a result of the consumption of plastic waste by marine organisms. Birds and larger animals that feed on these marine organisms also become susceptible to harm and in this way, plastic pollution contaminates the entire food chain. Among many vulnerable species, one is the Asian Elephant which has become endangered because of the rising number of deaths of this mammal caused by the ingestion of toxic plastic waste.
If we do not take immediate actions, individually as well as collectively to curb the use of plastic, the volumes of plastic waste making their way into oceans and seas are likely to triple and cause unimaginable and irreparable damage to the marine ecosystem.
What is the UN resolution?
Leaders all around the globe, that is, the heads of state, environment ministers, and other representatives of 175 nations came forward. joined hands and signed the resolution aimed at curbing this growing menace. This marked a historical moment in the global movement to end plastic pollution and save our marine ecosystems. The Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Inger Anderson has called this resolution “the most important international multilateral environmental deal after the Paris climate accord”. This highlights the significance of the agreement in providing a path to find solutions to tackle the plastic epidemic and moving one step forward in the wider aim to conserve the earth’s ecosystems.
Why is the resolution considered pathbreaking?
The UN resolution, titled “End Plastic Pollution: Towards and Internationally Legally Binding Instrument”, is a sigh of relief in the current deteriorating situation. It shows that our global leaders have begun to realize that plastic has made its way to every nook and corner of the globe and, the dangers of plastic pollution are not something that can be brushed under the carpet. They have taken cognizance of the fact that to give a push to individual efforts, there is first the need for collective efforts at the international level.
What are the features that characterize this resolution?
This resolution materialized at the fifth resume session of the United Nations Environment Assembly. Its most interesting and unique aspect is that it does not only focus on the result, that is the disposal of plastic waste, but intends to address its entire cycle beginning from production, including design as well. This means that there will be greater initiatives and international partnerships to promote the manufacturing of products that can be reused and recycled and encourage research for the development of viable eco-friendly alternatives to plastic. It would also strengthen scientific and technological cooperation among nations to devise solutions.
This resolution would also seek to encourage a shift to a circular economy as one of the promising solutions to this global threat.
What is the present position of the resolution?
At present, an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee has been set up that will commence its work this year and work for two years. By the end of 2024, this committee is expected to develop a legally binding framework and put forth various alternatives to address the root of this issue and ways in which the aim can be achieved.
I believe that amidst the current scenario, this resolution is wholeheartedly welcome. Right now, it is just a stepping stone, but I am sure that it will soon provide the path towards achieving our environmental goals in terms of plastic pollution.
Author- Ramesh Chaurasia
A superior and highly experienced entrepreneur in the field of business for quite a long time now. Also, a philanthropist, author, and public speaker who believes in working towards the overall well-being and betterment of society as a whole.