G20 environment ministers adopt framework to tackle marine litter

Jill Heinerth

The Group of 20 (G20) Ministerial Meeting on Energy Transitions and Global Environment for Sustainable Growth adopted a framework for action on marine plastic litter. In a Communique, the G20 Environment Ministers call for action to tackle marine plastic litter and microplastics, among other types of marine litter, and to address the adverse impacts on marine ecosystems, livelihoods, industries and human health.

The Ministerial Meeting convened from 15-16 June 2019, in Karuizawa Town, Nagano Prefecture, Japan, ahead of the G20 Summit in Osaka, from 28-29 June. Discussions addressed energy innovation, energy security, energy efficiency, renewable energy, nuclear energy, fossil fuels, energy access and affordability, and adaptation and resilient infrastructure, including ecosystem-based approaches.

The ‘G20 Implementation Framework for Actions on Marine Plastic Litter,’ builds on the G20 Action Plan on Marine Litter that was adopted at the G20 Summit in 2017, in Hamburg, Germany. The new action framework is anticipated to complement the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) work on marine litter and single-use plastics. The Implementation Framework aims to facilitate further actions on marine litter while taking into account national policies, approaches and circumstances.

To implement the action plan, the G20 will promote a comprehensive life-cycle approach to “urgently and effectively” prevent and reduce plastic litter discharge into the ocean. The approach will focus on land-based sources in particular, and pursue action including environmentally sound waste management, clean up of marine plastic litter, prevention and reduction of plastic waste generation and littering. It will also promote sustainable consumption and production (SCP), including resource efficiency, circular economy and sustainable materials management. The action plan further promotes deployment of innovative solutions, in cooperation with existing international initiatives and fora, and international cooperation to enhance national capacities.

In a Communique, the G20 Environment Ministers recognize that such action contributes to the SDGs, particularly SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production). Ministers further recognize the importance of SDG 12 to addressing environmental challenges, managing resources sustainability and creating jobs, among other goals. The Communique highlights the contribution of improving resource efficiency to marine litter, and supports a life-cycle approach to reduce waste discharge into the world’s oceans.

The implementation framework outlines key actions to share information on relevant policies, plans and measures taken, or to be taken, in line with the G20’s 2017 Action Plan on Marine Litter on a voluntary basis. Information sharing actions aim to promote peer learning from best practices and utilize opportunities to co-organize with relevant meetings, such as the G20 Resource Efficiency Dialogue during the Japanese Presidency. The Government of Japan will support the development of a portal site for efficient information sharing and updating.

The G20 members also agree to engage in activities on marine litter beyond the G20 to maximize synergies, particularly with UNEP. G20 members will place emphasis on regional cooperation with relevant regional initiatives and bodies, including Regional Seas Programs and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs), and invite relevant international organizations to develop policy options and tools to support best practices. The G20 encourages the development of global-scale monitoring of marine litter, using harmonized methodologies, and encourages scientific communities and experts to identify and estimate the sources, pathways and fate of plastic waste leakage.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, which is hosting the G20 summit, has identified reducing marine plastic waste as a key priority for Japan’s G20 Presidency. The G20 website notes that Japan, “as a nation surrounded by oceans, is seriously addressing this urgent issue,” and expresses support for ‘Plastics Smart’ initiatives including to separate and recycle waste.

Original Source: IISD website.

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