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International Marine Environment Protection

Issues that indicate challenges to the rule of law in the sense that the fragmented nature of legal instruments regulating marine plastics and microplastics weakens legal certainty and effective implementation. Existing legal instruments at global and regional levels remain an important aspect in terms of tackling marine plastics pollution.

Cooperation and coordination between sector-specific instruments and between multiple layers of regulations at global, regional, and national levels will promote coherent regulations and implementation. Meanwhile, a new paradigm revolving around adopting a lifecycle approach should be considered.

This could significantly contribute to prevention of marine plastics litter and microplastics. There is growing awareness regarding issues of pollution upstream, which requires prevention and minimisation of plastic waste generation at an early stage of plastic production. Although a lifecycle approach has not been fully reflected in the current legal framework, it has recently been increasingly referred to as momentum for sustainable production and consumption.

Multi-stakeholder partnership should be promoted in order to facilitate development of initiative solutions throughout the entire lifecycle of plastics from design to recyclability. Despite urgent and widespread threats to the marine environment from marine plastics pollution, there is no one-stop shop solution.

While discussion at the United Nations Environment Assembly clearly expressed support for adoption of a global agreement, development of a new international agreement and strengthening of the current legal framework should be mutually reinforced. The rule of law will be maintained only through comprehensive efforts to enhance legal certainty and to facilitate implementation of legal obligations at global, regional and national levels, taking into account the lifecycle of plastics.

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