Marine Litter and Microplastics


In the first EMG report on System-Wide Collaboration on the Environment member agencies identified oceans as an opportunity to increase collaboration on this issue. Marine litter originates from many sources and causes a wide spectrum of environmental, economic, safety, health and cultural impacts.  Roughly 80 per cent of marine pollution originates on land. To address this, strong coordinated action is needed. 

At its third session in December 2017, the UN Environment Assembly (UNEP/EA.3/Res.7) called for the establishment of an Ad Hoc Open-Ended Expert Group to explore all barriers to combating marine litter and microplastics. In March 2019, through its resolution UNEP/EA.4/Res.6, emphasizing the importance of strengthened coordination and multi-stakeholder cooperation for achieving long-term elimination of plastic discharge into the oceans, the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly invited the Environment Management Group (EMG) to engage in and contribute to the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Expert Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics. 

In response to this call, following the midterm meeting of its technical segment held in May 2019, the EMG Senior Officials decided to establish an interagency Task Team to prepare the requested system-wide contribution.

The EMG Task Team on Marine Litter and Microplastics

As outlined in its Terms of Reference, the purpose of the Task Team is to expand UN system involvement and strengthen the coordination of UN-system support to Member States in addressing the global challenge posed by marine plastic debris and microplastics.

Task Team Meetings

The first meeting of the Task Team was held virtually on the 24th of October 2019. The meeting considered its draft Terms of Reference and heard a presentation from UNEP on ‘Entry points for tackling marine litter and microplastics.’ The minutes of the meeting can be downloaded here.

For more information, or to join the Task Team, please contact

Related links and resources 

This list will be updated based on relevant developments.