Statement by Amy Fraenkel, CMS Executive Secretary at UNEA-5.2


Distinguished Delegates,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honor for me to speak on behalf of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) .

This meeting provides an opportunity for historic action on plastic pollution, an issue I have been engaged in for over twenty years.

Plastic pollution is a major threat to many migratory animals protected by CMS, yet CMS can do little to address the causes of this threat, which UNEA can now do.  

Not all plastic reaches the oceans. Plastic pollution also threatens species in freshwater ecosystems and on land – impacting birds, fish and land animals. Such threats have been seriously understudied:  with only 13 percent of aquatic research focusing on freshwater, and   only 4 percent on terrestrial environments.

The CMS COP13 called for further action, and today, 1 March, we are launching the second of two reports related to freshwater and terrestrial environments in the Asia-Pacific region.  It confirms that plastic entanglement and ingestion is a major threat to numerous highly endangered species, including the Ganges River Dolphin, the Gharial, Mekong Giant Catfish and the Irrawaddy Dolphin. 

As you deliberate the resolution to establish the mandate for an INC, I ask that you consider these 3 key messages:

  1. The INC needs to address all plastic, not just plastic that ends up in the ocean. 
  2. The INC needs to include a focus at the source of plastic pollution   

a) Circular economy approaches may not adequately end the generation of plastic products that have little or no utility.  Even worse than single use plastics are plastics that have no usefulness whatsoever for the consumer, and which are literally “Wastes on Arrival”.   It is critical that the INC consider how to prevent such plastics from coming into the stream of commerce at all.   

  1. A significant effort is needed for research on impacts of plastic pollution on land and freshwater and species, including human health.

 Another resolution important to CMS is the resolution on animal welfare.  Because this is an area on which CMS has significant expertise, it would be helpful if the resolution called for UNEP to involve CMS as well as other relevant entities so as to not duplicate efforts.

To close, I look forward to continuing our close collaboration with UNEP, member states and stakeholders to help address the challenging global environmental issues of our time.

Last updated on 01 March 2022