Ministerial Conference on Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution opens hinh anh 1Vietnamese delegates attend the Ministerial Conference on Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution (Photo: MoNRE)

Hanoi (VNA) – The Ministerial Conference on Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution co-hosted by the Vietnamese Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and partners from Ecuador, Germany and Ghana opened in Geneva on September 1.

Held in both online and offline formats, the conference aims to keep the topic of marine litter and plastic pollution promoted high on the agenda, and build political momentum and will to drive a coherent global strategy to tackle the issue.

In his remarks, Deputy General Director of the Vietnam Administration of Seas and Islands Nguyen Que Lam said marine litter and plastic pollution has become a global issue, threatening ecosystems, environment and habitat of human and other species alike.

Given this, the world needs to join hands in timely actions to tackle this serious challenge before it is too late, he said.

Being aware of the importance of handling marine plastic pollution, the Vietnamese Government has paid special attention to and made efforts to solve the puzzle through practical actions like adopting the Law on Environmental Protection 2020, which legislates contents relating to plastic waste such as the management, reuse, recycling, and treatment and development of plastic circular economy model.

Vietnam has also issued the National Action Plan on marine plastic waste management to 2030, stepped up communication activities to raise public awareness of consumption and disposal of plastic products, established a partnership mechanism that allows manufacturers and government agencies to cooperate in tackling plastic pollution.

Vietnam has made initial contributions to the formation of a global agreement on marine plastic pollution, Lam said.

Ministerial Conference on Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution opens hinh anh 2Illustrative image (Source: AFP)

In that spirit, he added, Vietnam supports and is willing to participate in discussions to jointly develop an agreement on marine plastic pollution on the basis of respecting international law, within the framework of the United Nations.

On this occasion, Vietnam called upon the delegates to focus their discussions on solutions to encourage the participation of countries in addressing marine litter and plastic pollution, and propose sustainable production and consumption models of plastic products.

During the first working day of the two-day conference, the delegates looked into updates on marine litter and plastic pollution, and outcomes of preparatory meetings for the conference, held on May 27-28 and June 28-29.

On the second day, they will discuss lead-up steps to the 5th session of the United Nations Environment Council (UNEA 5.2), especially the high-level dialogue.

According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), global concerns about litter in the marine environment have been on the rise for several years. Studies show that between 8-12 million tonnes of plastic pollution leak into the oceans each year.

This number is expected to more than triple by 2050. Some experts estimated that, if the world continues on its current trajectory, more plastic than fish will be in the oceans by 2050. Studies have linked unsustainable production and consumption patterns to mounting plastic pollution, which impacts human health as well as the health of terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

In parallel, several other bodies are also conducting work related to marine litter and microplastics, including: the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal (Basel Convention); the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management; the International Maritime Organization (IMO); the World Health Organization (WHO); the WTO; and various Regional Seas Programmes and Conventions. There are also numerous voluntary initiatives on marine litter, several public-private partnerships to address land-based sources of marine pollution, and other dialogues, which are considering plastic pollution.

However, gaps in regulatory frameworks addressing marine litter and plastic pollution still remain./.