Life in the seas and oceans is at risk of irreparable damage from a rising tide of plastic waste, the UN oceans chief has warned.
Global Director for Ocean United Nation Environment and Sweden’s Ambassador for Oceans, Seas and Fresh Water, Dr Lisa Svensson said governments, firms and individual people must act far more quickly to halt plastic pollution: “This is a planetary crisis,” she said. “In a few short decades since we discovered the convenience of plastics, we are ruining the ecosystem of the ocean.
“The scale of the challenge is absolutely enormous.”
Svensson is backing a resolution by Norway this week for the world to completely eliminate plastic waste into the ocean.
If all nations agree to that long-term goal it’ll be considered a UN success.
Tisha Brown from Greenpeace told BBC News: “We welcome that they are looking at a stronger statement, but with billions of tonnes of plastic waste entering the oceans we need much more urgent action.
“We need manufacturers to take responsibility for their products – and we need to look at our consumption patterns that are driving all this.”
Indonesia – the world’s second biggest plastics polluter after China – has pledged to reduce plastic waste into the ocean by 75% by 2025, but some observers doubt legal rules are strong enough to make this happen.
Svensson said the ocean is facing multiple assaults, however, from over-fishing, pollution from chemicals, sewage and agriculture, development in coastal areas, climate change, ocean acidification, and over-exploitation of coral reefs.