Delegates of the Environment Commission
By Frances Allan representing Buzzfeed News
Scientific studies suggest that plastics and microplastics in the marine environment are profoundly detrimental to marine life, and especially detrimental to developing countries that rely on marine life as a food source as well as coastal resorts for tourism.
The question is; how should they be tackled and what trade-offs need to be made?
On a crisp spring morning, an array of the world’s countries converged to debate the crucial issue of plastics and microplastics in developing countries. It was inspiring to see just how many nations were motivated to find a workable way forward to crafting a better future for the environment and the world’s inhabitants.
The debate - although dealing with complex trade-offs - went relatively smoothly, with almost all positive amendments being proposed, further demonstrating a shared sense of purpose in battling the scourge of plastic.
The first resolution, proposed by Sri Lanka and supported by Madagascar, to replace plastic with alternative, eco-friendly materials was passed. The timeframe for is an ambitious: 2025. The main points of debate raised came down to the practicality, the morality and the necessity of certain clauses.
Nations that depend heavily on their marine biology for economic income were enthusiastic about the debate’s outcome. Singapore proposed a tax, but Bangladesh queried access to funding. Senegal raised the issue of capacity and argued that more precise detail was needed, while Portugal questioned the impact on criminal justice systems and the absence of framing the debate in the context of climate change. Kenya meanwhile raised the view that metal can be considered worse than plastic.
In the end, the majority UN member states supported this resolution - a victory for the environment and for developing countries.