Statement on behalf of Peru and 32 countries on Plastic Pollution and Human Rights

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United Nations Human Rights Council
52th Session (27 February – 7April 2023)
General Debate - Item 3

17 March 2023
2.30 minutes

Statement on behalf of Peru and 32 countries on Plastic Pollution and Human Rights


I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of 33 countries*, including my own, Peru.

Today, we wish to speak to one of the most important global environmental issues of our times: plastic pollution, and its grave impact on human rights. Plastic pollution is a transboundary problem that demonstrates that pollution, biodiversity loss, and climate change are mutually reinforcing and harm not only human health and the environment, but the ability of all persons to fully enjoy their human rights, including the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

As we know, plastic production, if left unchecked, will double in the next 20 years, while plastic waste will triple by 2040.

The impact of plastic pollution on a broad range of human rights is undeniable. The preservation of ecosystems is fundamental in ensuring the enjoyment of rights such as access to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation, adequate housing, and the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

Pollution across the life cycle of plastics disproportionately impacts those living in vulnerable settings, aggravating existing inequalities. The impacts on indigenous peoples, who have preserved and sustainably used ecosystems for millennia, are pronounced. Similarly, pollution takes on dangerous dimensions in the case of frontline communities and workers at heightened risk of occupational exposure like waste pickers, whose livelihood depends on the recycling of plastic, often in unsafe and/or toxic conditions. Women and girls are also particularly exposed to toxic smoke created by unsafe practices, such as burning plastic waste.

That is why in the context of ongoing negotiations for the legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution, we urge States to call for the treaty to be firmly rooted in a human rights-based approach that reduces inequalities between persons, enables a just transition, and protects the environment.

Thank you.

*The supporting countries as of 11.40h on March 17th are:

[1] UNEP, From Pollution to Solution: A Global Assessment of Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution (2021)
[2] Women, girls and the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment - Report of the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment (2023) A/HRC/52/33