On 1-2 September, Vietnam, Ecuador, Germany, and Ghana co-hosted the first International Ministerial Conference on Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution with support from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The conference took place both on site in Geneva and online, with the participation of more than 140 countries and non-government organizations.
The conference is a forum for informal consultation meetings based on tasks from the 3rd and 4th sessions of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) on tackling marine litter and microplastics. The consultations, which also covered the findings of the special expert team on marine litter and microplastics, will contribute to the 5th session of UNEA (UNEA 5.2) scheduled for February 2022.
At the opening session, the Deputy Director General of the Vietnam Administration of Seas and Islands under MONRE stated that plastic pollution and ocean waste are an urgent problem, threatening ecosystems, human habitats and species across the world. He said that it is imperative that the world join hands to address this serious challenge.
Aware of the importance of addressing ocean plastic pollution, the Government of Vietnam has made efforts to address the problem through fundamental reforms in environmental protection policies, laws and practical action. From a legal perspective, the government promulgated the Law on Environmental Protection 2020, which legislates plastic waste-related tasks, such as plastic waste management, reuse, recycling, and treatment, and a National Action Plan on Marine Plastic Waste Management towards 2030. Apart from policy innovation, Vietnam has also strengthened communications activities to raise people’s awareness about the consumption and disposal of plastic products, and has enhanced scientific research, innovation and technology transfer. Moreover, Vietnam has established a partnership mechanism that allows manufacturers and government agencies to cooperate in tackling plastic waste pollution.
Vietnam called on delegates to discuss solutions to mobilize the participation of countries in solving plastic pollution and ocean waste, and to propose potential models for the sustainable production and consumption of plastic products.
In June, Vietnam joined 77 UN member states and the European Union in supporting the Ocean Day Declaration on Plastic Pollution, calling for the establishment of an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee at UNEA 5.2 to kick off a negotiation process for a legally binding global agreement on plastic pollution based on an existing draft resolution drawn up by Peru and Rwanda. Germany, Ghana, Ecuador, Vietnam and all EU countries support the draft resolution while other countries have already pledged their support.