Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Promising start to plastic pollution negotiations as countries show strong support for ambitious global agreement

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The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) welcomes the strong support shown for an ambitious global plastics treaty demonstrated at the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC1) concluded on December 02, 2022 in Punta del Este, Uruguay, but cautions that this is just the first step in the two-year negotiations process.

More than 145 countries have shown strong alignment in their preference for a treaty with specific and common, global rules. Such rules could include bans on the most problematic forms of plastic, and product requirements to ensure reuse and circularity. 

This is the first time that governments have met to negotiate global-level regulations to stop the plastic pollution crisis. The process is planned to conclude in 2024 and aims to create a global convention with a common global approach to tackle plastic pollution. 

Welcoming the progress made at the meeting, Eirik Lindebjerg, WWF Global Plastics Policy Lead, said “The momentum demonstrated at these negotiations is a promising sign that we will get a truly ambitious treaty with effective global measures to stop plastic pollution by the end of these negotiations.” However, he also warns that “This is just the first step towards a legally binding global treaty that can help us stop plastic pollution. The next stage of negotiations will be more challenging, as countries must agree on the technical measures and rules.  The push for an ambitious global plastics treaty has only just begun.”

It is now crucial that governments start developing specific rules towards the next negotiation meeting in Paris in May 2023, according to WWF.

In its regional statement for INC1, the Asia Pacific Group (APG) highlighted that the region is home to widely diverse countries that all share in common the sense of urgency to tackle this transboundary issue by strengthening global and regional coordination and cooperation.   The group also reiterated the need to fulfill the mandate decided under UNEA resolution 5/14, which includes discussions of all elements listed in said resolution.

Deputy Permanent Representative to UNEP & UN Habitat Maria Rosanna O. Josue stressed at INC1 that the Philippines has been championing the need for a legally binding global agreement to end this problem that not only coastal states but also landlocked countries face alike.  “The Philippines realizes that national legislation and action plans alone are not enough to address the transboundary problem of plastic pollution. We must start strong with the coherent organization of work anchored on bold and binding global rules and standards throughout the life cycle of plastics including those already existing in river and marine environments complemented by the needed implementation measures and technological, financial, and technical support while being informed by the best available science,” shared Josue.

WWF-Philippines Executive Director Katherine Custodio expressed the local office’ pledge of support to the INC. “WWF-Philippines is committed to participating and providing support to the INC process, and we have aligned our work to make the vision of no plastic in nature a reality.  We strongly hope that the Philippines would continue to show leadership and commitment on the global stage to end the problem of plastic pollution.”

WWF has called for the negotiations to result in an ambitious and inclusive treaty, with efficient control measures applicable at various levels, and which considers financial, technical and technological mechanisms to carry out a just transition at a global level.

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