GEF STAP Workshop Addresses Marine Debris Problems

1 April 2011: The Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) convened a workshop titled “Seeking Global and Regional Solutions to Marine Debris Problem” on 23 March 2011, in Honolulu, Hawaii, US, at the fifth International Marine Debris Conference. The Conference was organized by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The workshop explored a specific role for GEF in supporting global efforts aimed at addressing marine debris problems, and current knowledge about the impacts of marine debris on marine global biodiversity and the marine environment in general, including the impacts of transport of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

It brought together representatives from the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), intergovernmental organizations including UNEP, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Regional Seas Conventions and small island States, scientists, and representatives of civil society organizations and the plastics industry.

The workshop was held in response to emerging evidence on the geographical distribution and scale of marine debris and its multiple impacts on human health, marine biodiversity, transport of persistent organic pollutants, endocrine disrupting and other chemicals, as well as impacts on marine transportation and tourism and economies, particularly those of island and coastal states, suggesting that marine debris is an issue that requires a concerted international response.

Results of the STAP workshop contributed to the development of the Honolulu Commitment issued at the end of the 5th International Marine Debris Conference, calling on “international organizations, governments at national and sub-national levels, industry, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), citizens and other stakeholders” to halt and reverse the occurrence of marine debris by minimizing waste and turning it into a resource in an environmentally sustainable manner. STAP is preparing its recommendations on marine debris response for the upcoming 40th GEF Council Meeting, which will be held on 24-26 May 2011, in Washington, DC. [IISD RS Sources] [STAP Workshop Page]