Delegates at this week’s first-ever UN Environmental Assembly in Kenya will discuss ways to advance the “green economy,” including alternative energies, smart grids and new transportation options, the Associated Press reports.
Achim Steiner, the head of the UN Environmental Program, tells the news agency that the climate change, pollution, land degradation, access to water and other environmental changes show that the unless the world economy — closely linked to the environment — is reinvented, progress will suffer.
On Monday, Sanjaasuren Oyun, minister of environment and green development in Mongolia, told the opening session that sustainable development requires more environmentally sound policies.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to attend the assembly later in the week.
Plastic waste causes $13 billion in annual financial damage to marine ecosystems, though the actual cost of plastic waste to the overall environment may be much higher, according to two reports released at the UN Environmental Assembly.
One report, the UN Environment Programme Year Book, notes that when plastic material fouls fishing equipment and pollutes beaches it threatens tourism, fisheries and businesses in addition to marine life.
A second UNEP-supported report, Valuing Plastic, produced by the Plastic Disclosure Project and Trucost, says that more than 30 percent of natural capital costs are the result of greenhouse gas emissions from raw material extraction and processing, with marine pollution being the largest downstream cost. The report also says that $13 billion is likely a significant underestimate.