Oral intervention to be given by the Next Century Foundation at the 37th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Item 3 Clustered ID on 2nd March 2018, the special report on the environment:
Mr President. The destruction of the environment is no longer a distant possibility; its degradation has harmed vital ecosystems and impacted the livelihoods of the people that depend on them and has also had negative effects on human health and well-being. It is no exaggeration to say that the environment is now very much a human security concern.
The Next Century Foundation commends the profound commitment of the UN to combat the threat of environmental degradation through the sustainable development goals and through the remarkable work carried out by the Environment Programme.
However while good ecological practices are becoming more mainstream and humanity is becoming more aware of the extent to which human action is harming the planet, the NCF wishes to particularly emphasize the dangers posed by the increasing scale of global plastic pollution.
According to the UN’s own figures, there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050 unless people stop using single-use plastic items. The danger posed by plastic waste entering the world’s seas and oceans is not only harmful to wildlife; it is also moving up the food chain and threatening human sustenance. Oceans and seas are crucial resources for human existence and their maintenance makes the Earth habitable.
The NCF believes that improper care of these resources could make humankind’s future unsustainable. Despite the vast number of pledges and promises made by nations to reduce the amount of plastic waste entering the oceans, the distinct lack of timetables and lack of legally binding agreements has hampered any resolute and meaningful action.
While we are encouraged by the reuse of resources through recycling, this solution alone is not enough. We instead urge nations to consider more front-line solutions; to adopt a legal commitment to the environment; to move towards a plastic-free world and perhaps most crucially to establish a realistic time frame for when this will be achieved.
We echo the opening statements of the Stockholm Declaration, that man is both creature and molder of his environment. We have all played a part in creating this problem, we must therefore work together to find the solutions. Thank you.