Dialogue

22 May 2024

The Plastics Crisis as a Health Crisis: How Can the International Health Community Support the Global Response to Plastic Pollution & the Plastics Treaty?

As the international health community gathers for the 77th World Health Assembly, this roundtable reviewed the evidence on human health impacts of plastics, chemicals of concern and plastic pollution; highlighted the importance of the protection of human health as a core objective of the future legally-binding instrument to end plastic pollution; and explored how the international health community can support the global response to plastic pollution and the future plastics treaty.

This roundtable brought together health and environment officials based in Geneva with leading experts from international organizations, research centres, and civil society organizations to:

  • highlight the importance of the protection of human health as a core objective of the future legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution,
  • review the evidence on the human health impacts of plastics, chemicals of concern, and plastic pollution, and
  • explore how the international health community can support the global response to plastic pollution, including in the context of the global plastics treaty.

The roundtable aimed to foster dialogue on how the treaty can address human health protection in ways that are environmentally sound while pursuing the highest attainable standard of health in the context of sustainable development priorities.

Among the key questions for discussion were:

  1. What does the latest evidence tell us about the human health impacts of plastics and plastic pollution across the life cycle of plastics?
  2. What kinds of measures can effectively prevent the human health impacts of plastics and plastic pollution, and how can these be addressed in the context of the global plastics treaty?
  3. How can research, data, and transparency be harnessed to ensure the international community is responsive to new evidence on impacts to human health?
  4. How is the objective of human health being addressed by the International Negotiating Committee (INC) for the plastics treaty and how can the international health community support the treaty and effective implementation?

Agenda

8:00 Welcome

8:05 Keynote: H.E. Luis Vayas Valdivieso, Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC) to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution

8:15 Expert Panel – Why the Plastics Crisis is a Health Crisis

Overview of current known impacts of plastic on human health

  • Sarah Dunlop, Minderoo-Monaco Commission on Plastics and Human Health

Plastics, the food we eat, and what we can do about it

  • Jane Muncke, Scientist Coalition for an Effective Plastics Treaty and Food Packaging Forum Foundation

The human health dimensions of plastics and priorities for international cooperation

  • Adetoun Mustapha, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research

Q+A (10 minutes)

8:45 Expert Panel – The Plastic Treaty Negotiations: State of Play and Role of the Public Health Community

Overview of the state of play at the INC and opportunities for the public health community to engage

  • Maria Eugenia González Anaya, INC Focal Point, First Secretary of Legal Affairs and Environment, Permanent Mission of Mexico to UN Office in Geneva
  • Albert Altarejos Magalang, INC Focal Point, Chief of Climate Change Service, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippines

Strengthening health protections under the treaty and opportunities for the public health community to engage

  • Kate Robertson, Technical Officer (Legal), Public Health Law and Policies Unit, Department of Health Promotion, WHO HQ

Lessons on integrating health considerations related to plastics and plastic pollution into MEAs: A perspective from the BRS Secretariat

  • Kei Ohno, Senior Coordination Officer, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions

What we need to know to develop an effective plastics treaty and opportunities for the public health community in the treaty process

  • Vito Buonsante, Technical and Policy Advisor, International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN)

Health in the current treaty draft text and how the public health community can contribute to the INC process and treaty implementation

  • David Azoulay, Director of Environmental Health, Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL)

Discussion (10 minutes)

9:30 Close

Moderator: Carolyn Deere Birkbeck, Executive Director, TESS

The Plastics Crisis as a Health Crisis

We encourage you to watch the full event video.

Co-hosted with

Global Plastics Treaty Negotiations

This roundtable was part of our initiative promoting international cooperation on trade to support the global plastics treaty negotiations.