SEA of Solutions is an annually occurring partnership event towards solving plastic pollution at source, convened by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA), through the SEA circular project supported by the Government of Sweden. This year’s SEA of Solutions 2020 will be organized in collaboration with the government of Viet Nam.
SEA of Solutions 2019 was held 11-14 November 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand, bringing together over 500 delegates from more than 35 countries including government and business leaders, scientists, innovators, conservationists and community groups in dialogue on solutions to marine plastic pollution. Through 20 sessions, the event addressed some of the most pressing issues in reducing plastic waste and marine litter, such as the illegal trade in plastic waste, stimulating demand and financing for second life markets and recovery, and mainstreaming circular economy practices by businesses, communities and local governments, underscoring the need for urgent action and collaboration. The event culminated in a series of inspiring pledges towards plastic pollution prevention.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused new and extraordinary challenges, threatening public health, the economy, and the environment. Efforts to preserve life and prevent contagion, such as wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing remain important measures. However, increased use of personal protective equipment (masks and gloves), hand sanitizers (mostly in single-use plastic packaging), a resurgence in the use of plastics including single-use bags, extensive use of food delivery services and e-commerce, delays or reversals in plastic bag bans and even the banning of reusables in business establishments and cities all have repercussions. Waste disposal systems are overwhelmed, and a large volume of plastic is finding its way to the sea. Getting back on track with policies and programs toward reducing plastic waste and increasing recycling is a major challenge, during the pandemic and as it finally subsides.
Recognizing this challenge, SEA of Solutions 2020 (SOS2020) will continue to explore and address priorities in the region, building on outcomes from the previous year, with a focus on the key question – how can we now progress towards “less plastic wasted”?
SOS2020 unites seekers and providers of market-transforming policy, business, and technology solutions, enabling networking among plastic value-chain stakeholders to facilitate information exchange, collaboration, and partnerships that result in reduced single-use plastic production, use of alternative packaging, and increased collection for recycling.
Under the overall theme “Wasting less plastic and keeping it out of the ocean – Has the needle moved?” SOS2020 will:
- Discuss the challenges of managing COVID-19-related waste and the identify the ongoing efforts and multi-stakeholder responses and solutions, with a focus on reduction and recycling;
- Highlight opportunities for transformation through footprint measurement, reporting, and disclosure, plastic neutrality and monetizing waste for communities and businesses;
- Promote and enable policies and incentives towards less plastic wasted through a deeper understanding of market perceptions and consumer behavior.
SOS2020 brings together:
- Businesses, governments, donor agencies, academia and communities to discuss how their own activities, challenges and best practices are supporting less plastic wasted;
- Women, local communities and the informal sector with their work on fair payment and equal access to opportunities to help lift living standards;
- Youth and community to voice their concerns, present their ideas, and connect with potential mentors, partners, and donors.
The event will be gender balanced and inclusive, ensuring equal opportunity to participate actively as delegates and as speakers. Participation of representatives with expertise in gender equality, a human rights-based approach and representatives of disadvantaged groups will be encouraged and facilitated.
What will be done at SOS2020?
Planned for 3 days from 24 – 26 November, SOS2020 will be organized around a series of plenary discussions interspersed with action-oriented and case-studies-led sessions, and will feature networking spaces and an online exhibition pavilion.
Sessions: Format options will include TED-style presentations, dialogues (moderator interviewing an expert or person of interest), and panel discussions. Sessions will be short (max of 60 minutes, with interaction time of at least 20 minutes per session), and will be complemented by audience engagement via Q&A, polls, and other creative tools to encourage participation. A maximum total of 3 hours of virtual connection per day is targeted.
Networking Rooms: Meeting spaces for participants and break-out discussions will be available during designated networking time slots, outside of the organized session schedules.
Exhibition Pavilion: A virtual array of curated exhibition booths from selected contributors will provide opportunities for bilateral discussions, networking and showcasing of solutions that are already contributing to less plastic wasted. These online spaces will feature exhibition hosts, short films or recordings and other interactive exhibition formats.
How will it work?
With prevailing and likely measures to mitigate COVID-19 risks and impacts, SOS2020 will be run mainly as a virtual event, exploring new ways of exchanging information and interacting. This allows SOS2020 to reach an even greater audience from within and outside the region.
SOS2020 will be organized from a base hub in Bangkok, where core elements of the event will be conducted in person and from where sessions and other activities will be livestreamed.
The base hub may connect to other hubs, where SOS2020 partners may convene specific sessions or provide a venue from which speakers can present.