Environment ministers from Nordic countries have formally called for a global ocean plastic treaty to address the widespread issue of marine pollution.
Ministers for the environment from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden issued a declaration to the governments of EU Member States, the G7 and G20 and the United Nations Environment Programme, calling for a worldwide agreement on reducing the influx of plastic waste into the world’s oceans. The ministers, who agreed on the declaration at a meeting of the Nordic Council in Reykjavik, also called on the Nordic Council of Ministers to conduct a study investigating the most effective potential clauses which could be included in a future treaty; and urged internationally coordinated action to preserve marine biodiversity.
WWF International, the coordinating office for the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), said the declaration by Nordic ministers came in the wake of the failure of the world’s governments to establish functional environmental policy guidance at the United Nations Assembly in March. WWF has lent its support to the call for an ocean plastic treaty, noting that marine plastic pollution and the prevalence of microplastics in ecosystems have severely detrimental effects on marine habitats.
The proposed ocean plastic treaty would fall under the terms of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which commits signatory countries to work together to address the growing threat of species loss through climate change, pollution and ecosystem damage. Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, Iceland’s Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources, said: “The CBD is very important; and now that our biodiversity targets are to be revised, it’s vital that we set the bar high for new targets and that we strive even more purposefully to achieve them. We need to focus on the synoptic links between biodiversity and other environmental challenges, including the fight against desertification and climate change.”