Microplastics will put you in the hospital

Image by gentlemanrook on Flickr, licensed under  Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
Image by gentlemanrook on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastics less than 5mm and could even be as small as a grain of sand. When plastic marine debris is being broken down from wind, rain and other natural elements they become microplastics. They can also be found in cosmetic products that we use. They can get into the food chain to humans through animals eating it. Fish and other seafood when caught and dissected, bits of plastics have been found in their stomachs. Now the major issue is the toxins from the additives in the plastics which can not only poison you but may cause cancer when you consume the fish.

In this light, the negotiating text addressing Marine Debris highlighted the impacts of microplastics on animals and the environment but not the effects on human health. That is why today, I got the chance to deliver an intervention for GYBN on this topic. If the link between human health and microplastics is made, then persons will more likely want to change their behaviour – since it may affect them personally.

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During the interventions, several Parties in general mentioned the dire need to prevent the marine debris from occurring at all, and also highlighted the negative effects of it on animals and ecosystems.

Steps to Delivering the Intervention

  1. I had to read the negotiating document and flag certain recommendations that I thought needed work or was not suitable.
  2. I worked with more experienced members of the delegation who read it through and edited the document. We had to make sure that it was concise and that specific words were emphasised in order to denote some emotion to the Parties, UN agencies and NGOs there.
  3. Practice, practice, practice. I had to practice and after much coaching I believed I was ready.
  4. In the plenary room we had to make sure to press the microphone button to indicate that we wanted the floor soon after the interventions started. This was to make sure we would be able to get onto the list to speak.

I got really nervous as the time soon came for me to speak. The Parties were finished and the UN organisations were on. A strange thing happened after all that rehearsal. An NGO (IIFB), mentioned the importance of the participation of young people within their intervention, so at the last minute, we added another point to support them. The next thing I knew, I heard the Chair speak and my microphone turned red and it was time to speak. After a minor fumble I finally found my voice and began reading the intervention loud and clear and with motion as practiced. It was such a blur but from the applause from my teammates I knew I did a good job.

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