Marine Plastic Litter and Microplastics

The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) serves to promote sustainable development by improving our quality of life in such a way that any changes made do not impede upon the lives of those in future generations. While UNEP covers a wide range of environmental issues, in recent years, one of their major topics of concern has been that of marine plastic 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 pollution of of our oceans. These plastics take an extremely long time to degrade, and are seen to negatively affect coastal communities, and threaten the  health of both human by entering the food chain and marine life that can become entangled in or ingest plastic debris, causing suffocation, starvation, and drowning. 

Marine plastic litter and microplastics are observed in every ocean and sea throughout the world, making this issue one which needs to be tackled through transnational cooperative efforts. 

The threat of plastics to the planet’s ecosystems is a growing epidemic. Plastic debris as a global challenge will rupture the political, economic, and social structures of every society, even putting the planet’s very survival on the line. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean by weight than fish. Member States must work together to find solutions to this widespread issue by developing ways to combat this growing problem that impacts our ability to achieve.