Nordic Countries Call for Ocean Plastic Treaty

Nordic Council meeting 2019
Nordic Council meeting 2019

Published Apr 10, 2019 8:20 PM by The Maritime Executive

Nordic governments have become the first in the world to formally call for a global treaty to tackle ocean plastic.

The call was made at a gathering of the environment ministers of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden at the Nordic Council in Reykjavik, Iceland. 

In the declaration, the ministers for the environment are pushing for a global agreement on plastic. The declaration, which has been sent to E.U. governing bodies, UNEP, the G7 and the G20, also asks the Nordic Council of Ministers to prepare a study to consider which specific elements should be included in a global agreement to combat microplastics and plastic waste in the marine environment.

The declaration comes after world leaders failed to agree meaningful policy decisions on the issue at the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi last month, says WWF International.

An estimated eight million tons of plastic is dumped into the oceans every year.

WWF is calling for a binding treaty that would establish national targets and transparent reporting mechanisms that extend to companies. Additionally, any treaty should provide for financial and technical support for low income countries to scale up their waste management capacity.

Almost 400,000 people have joined WWF’s global petition on marine plastics pollution.

The ministers for the environment also called for action on biodiversity, saying that Nordic countries should share their positive experiences in relation to the harmonisation of legislation, policies and administrative practices for climate and biodiversity targets. 

International studies show that species are disappearing and that ecosystems are being damaged and destroyed at a pace that threatens the living conditions of current and future generations. Under the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the nations of the world are working together to stem such losses by preserving nature and transforming the industries that make use of natural resources – primarily agriculture, fishing, forestry and tourism.

“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,” says Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources of Iceland, which holds the presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2019.

Last autumn, the Nordic Council decided to give young people a stronger voice in international negotiations on biodiversity and in following up the new targets. The Nordic ministers for the environment are requesting that the Nordic Council of Ministers follows up the initiative with a project that ensures that the views of children and young people are taken into account in efforts relating to the new framework for the CBD.

“It’s young people who will inherit our planet, so it goes without saying that they should have a say in how we treat it and look after it,” says Guðbrandsson.