LAST February 28 to March 2, the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) hosted by the UN Environment Programme was held. The assembly brought together representatives of the 193 member states of the UN, businesses, civil society and other stakeholders to agree on policies to address the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. It was held online and in Nairobi. The overall theme for UNEA-5 is “Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The UNEA-5.2 is an opportunity for member states to share best practices for sustainability. It will create momentum for governments build on and catalyze impact on multilateral environmental efforts to protect and restore the natural world on which our economies and societies depend.

Immediately after UNEA-5.2, the Assembly will hold a special session on March 3 to 4,2022, which is devoted to the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the creation of UN Environment Programme in 1972 (UNEP@50). I checked the official website of UNEA-5 but there is no information yet on issues discussed or agreed upon during the assembly. Once it is available, I will write about it in this column.

One of the issues that may have been tackled is the plastic waste problem. There are hopes that formal talks will begin for a new legally binding rules governing plastic waste worldwide. According to the Center for International Environmental Law, over 700 groups from 113 countries are calling for the establishment of a plastics treaty at UNEA-5.2.

One of the groups that is pressing for an international agreement on plastic is the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Their goal is to stop the flow of plastic entering nature by 2030, and one of their strategies is the formulation of a global plastic policy.

Eirik S. Lindebjerg, Global Plastics Policy Manager of WWF said that “The world’s inability to manage plastic waste results in one-third of plastic, or 100 million metric tons of plastic waste, becoming land or marine pollution. People are fed up with seeing the pollution wash up on shores, contaminating our food and water supplies, and causing countless detrimental effects. The time is now for a UN treaty on plastic pollution that establishes the necessary common rules and regulations and stops the leakage of plastic pollution into the oceans by 2030.”

The Philippines, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, expressed its commitment to support the development of a legally binding treaty that will comprehensively address plastic pollution, including marine pollution.

The Philippines has been cited as the biggest source of ocean plastic in the article entitled “Where does the plastics in our ocean come from?” published online at ourworldindata.org/ocean-plastics. Seven of the top ten polluting rivers are from the Philippines. Pasig River is number 1 contributing 6.43% of the global ocean plastic pollution and our very own Pampanga River is 6th in the list.