By IISD’s SDG Knowledge Hub

2 July 2019: UN Member States have reached agreement on the outcome document of the SDG Summit. The final text includes a reference to marine plastic litter that had not appeared in the previous versions.

The SDG Summit is the meeting of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to be convened under the auspices of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) at the level of Heads of State and Government, from 24-25 September 2019. The UNGA is expected to adopt the political declaration during the opening session of the Summit.

The amended draft includes “discharge of plastic litter into the oceans” among the issues on which progress is slow, and which could bring disastrous consequences for humanity.

The text was developed through consultations co-facilitated by Sheila Carey, Permanent Representative of Bahamas, and Olof Skoog, Permanent Representative of Sweden, between May and July. On 21 June the co-facilitators circulated a draft of the declaration under the silence procedure, but after extending the silence procedure until 28 June, they announced that the silence had been broken by a Member State.

The co-facilitators reported that this delegation asked for an amendment in paragraph 20, which expresses concern about issues on which “progress is slow.” The amended sentence was requested to read, “Biodiversity loss, environmental degradation, discharge of plastic litter into the oceans, climate change and increasing disaster risk continue at rates that bring potentially disastrous consequences for humanity.” The co-facilitators consulted with Member States, and this version is now agreed.

In her letter transmitting the final draft, UNGA President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces said she looks forward to its adoption “by consensus” during the opening session of the Summit, on 24 September. Current plans for the Summit’s programme and modalities are described here.

Tackling plastic pollution and specifically marine plastic litter has been a focus of recent initiatives by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) (e.g. in April 2018 and March 2019), UNGA President Espinosa and the G20 under Japan’s presidency, among many other actors. It is also reflected in SDG target 14.1, by which UN Member States commit to “by 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds.”

Source:: IISD – International Negotiations

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