Marine Plastic Litter and Micro Plastics
As the primary unit for global environmental advocacy, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) serves to promote sustainable development and support nations in improving their quality of life in such a way that any changes made do not impede upon the lives of those in future generations. The UN environmental programme covers a wide range of issues, however, in recent years, one of their major topics of concern has been that of marine plastic and litter, and microplastics. Marine plastic litter or “marine debris” – defined as plastic waste, formed by humans and accidentally or intentionally disposed of into any water system or natural body of water – and microplastics – defined as plastics, typically broken-down from marine debris, that vary in size from a Nano proportion to 5mm – are a primary cause of the depletion of our ocean and ecosystem’s health. These plastics take an extremely long time to degrade, and are seen to negatively affect coastal communities, and cause heightened health problems for both human and marine life through the overt implications they have on the ecosystem, as well as the less obvious ramifications, such as their entrance into food chains. These types of debris are observed in every ocean and sea throughout the world, making this issue one which needs to be tackled through transnational cooperative efforts, and by policy makers who work conjunctionally to create resolutions that combat the myriad of problems posed in a timely manner. Delegates are tasked with evaluating, monitoring, and implementing policies which will aid in reducing the amount of marine plastics and litter, and microplastics currently residing in the oceans, and aid in mitigating the detriment that these materials are having on other facets of the ecosystem and society.