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.

SOS2020 Objectives

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.

Event Design

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 Theme: Wasting less plastic and keeping it out of the ocean – Has the needle moved?

Tackling plastic pollution and marine litter requires a multi-stakeholder value chain and source-to-sea approaches. SOS2020 will discuss how far we have travelled in our efforts of wasting less plastic, and if the plethora of actions is achieving the desired impact on plastic pollution and marine litter. 

The programme will be developed[1] to address issues such as:

1. The Plastic Pandemic: Is less plastic waste even possible during COVID-19?

With COVID-19, fear of contamination, a surge in the use of masks and single-use plastic, weak demand for recycled plastics and the current low oil values driving down prime plastic prices has upended many efforts to reduce plastic waste and marine litter.  Sessions will address what government action, legislation, and additional financial motivation for markets to use recycled material and incorporate recycled contents to other polymers are needed to counteract and address this issue. 

2. Aligning science and research for policy and management use

Notwithstanding the progress made in development of policies, more granularity is needed for science and research to enable better policy perspectives and guide management planning and action. Focusing scientific effort can provide a driving force for better integration of policy measures and implementation, and for enabling commitment to greater ambitions and shared actions from organizations.

 3. Market perceptions and incentives to action

A recent survey among consumers and businesses offer insight that can support action across government and private sector. Key areas where accelerated government action is considered most critical include: mandating waste segregation, enhancing collection systems, ensuring consistent labelling for product recycling, and imposing littering fines and charges. Discussions will focus on how these gaps in market perceptions and reality might be bridged to enable plastic value chain transformation with targeted incentives. This shift would require government incentives and a new approach from industry and investors.

 4. Transformation through National and Local Action

Inter-linkages between regional, national, and local marine litter plans occur at different levels and succeed with the active participation of various sectors and stakeholders.  The sessions under this theme will also cover the working technologies and processes and their practical uses. 

5. Technologies and innovation for community action

Innovative approaches using technology, data applications, and social and integrated media for awareness and outreach can generate opportunities for communities and local governments in the management of waste, the provision of livelihoods, and the protection of their environments. Unlikely partnerships and collaboration create effective cross learning and knowledge sharing opportunities that can scale and create real impact.

 6. Pledges that count: Tracking the SOS2019 commitments and Collaborating on new ones

A stocktake of the actions and the commitments to less plastic wasted made by representatives from government, business, community groups and civil society will be shared in this year’s Voices session.  SOS2020 will aim to elevate the discussions and lift the bar on advancing pledges and escalating action by an even larger constituency of stakeholders.

For interest to host a session, exhibition, or a side event, please contact

[1] The programme and individual sessions will be developed with invited partners. Separate guidance will be provided.

SOS2020 Programme Design

SOS2020 will include plenary as well as parallel sessions, an online exhibition space, and a side event stage. The programme will be designed to encourage audience participation, including through discussion sessions, use of polls and other creative tools.

Time (ICT) Day 1 (24 November) Day 2 (25 November) Day 3 (26 November)
09:00 - 10:30   Participant Networking - Online Exhibit - Side Events
11:00 - 12:00 Plenary 1
Opening and Welcome
Plenary 2
Financing to build back better
Session 9

Session 10

12:00 - 13:30 Participant Networking - Online Exhibit - Side Events
13:30 - 14:30
Session 1 Session 2
Session 5 Session 6
Technical Session
15:00 - 16:00
Session 3 Session 4
Session 7 Session 8
Plenary 3
High-level Session: A Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN
16:00 - 16:30 Participant Networking - Online Exhibit - Side Events
16:00 - 16:40 Plenary 4
Voices Session: Scaling up commitments that move the needle



SOS2020 will include ten (10) interlinked sessions to generate insights and identify solutions. These sessions will consider (1) COVID-19 impacts, responses and solutions, (2) challenges and solutions for recycling and monetizing waste, and (3) transformative policies for effective action.
Session formats include TED-style presentations, dialogues (moderator interviewing experts or persons of interest), and three to four-person panel discussions. Sessions will be 60 minutes long, with time of at least 20 minutes for audience participation including through Q&A, polls, and use of other creative tools.

Lightning Talks

Short, pre-recorded presentations (c 5-8 minutes) available on demand will provide introductory or background information on key concepts and topics that will be tackled during SOS2020. Lightning talks may address, for example, AI for monitoring, harmonizing plastic accounting standards, plastic credits 101, what are good commitments? etc.
Speakers of lightning talks will be available for scheduled meetings during SOS2020. Some lightning talks may also be selected for screening as part of SOS2020 sessions.

Side Events

Events relevant to the SOS2020 theme and objectives, organized by external partners will be held at a dedicated virtual side event stage.

If your organization is interested to propose a session, submit a ‘lighting talk’ or organize a side event, please use the attached form and submit to by 26 October 2020.

Digital Exhibition Booth

Exhibition booths will showcase solutions that are already contributing to plastic pollution and marine litter prevention. SOS2020 participants can “walk in”, access information on demand, and interact with exhibition booth hosts. Features of exhibition booths include images, videos, digital brochures and other content, as well as space for bilateral discussions and networking.

Interested in exhibiting? Please use the attached form and submit to by 26 October 2020.