Governments set the timetable for negotiations for a plastic pollution treaty and developed rules of procedure. Multi-stakeholder dialogues were held in parallel, bringing together representatives of communities directly impacted by plastic pollution, as well as corporate interests with stakes in the plastics value chain, among other actors who will be impacted by a future instrument.
“As plastic pollution becomes increasingly visible both on land and in waterways, calls to tackle the growing plastic waste crisis have reverberated around the world,” notes the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) summary of the meeting. About 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950s, of which 6.3 billion tons are waste today. Between 8 and 12 million tonnes of plastic leak into the marine environment each year – a number that is expected to more than triple by 2050. Studies have linked the exponential growth of plastic pollution to the ways in which we produce and unsustainable consumption, resulting in far-reaching impacts on human health and the health of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. In the past two years, plastic particles have reportedly been found in human lungs, blood and placenta.
In response to these growing concerns, the UNEA passed a number of resolutions to address the issue, including Resolution 5/14 titled “Ending Plastic Pollution: Towards an International Legally Binding Instrument”, which mandated the process to draw up an international treaty to combat plastic. Pollution.
A meeting of ad hoc Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) to prepare the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) to develop an International Legally Binding Instrument (ILBI) on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, convened from 30 May to June 1, 2022, in Dakar, Senegal, with the virtual attendance option available for those unable to attend in person. The meeting sought to establish a basis for the work of the INC by addressing two fundamental issues: the rules of procedure governing the work and decision-making of the INC; and the INC meeting schedule.
Delegates were able to agree on a tentative schedule for INC meetings over the next two years, although dates were not set. The IN B reports that a “somewhat unexpected hurdle” in finalizing the rules of procedure was the voting rights of regional economic integration organizations. This rule has not been resolved and will require further consideration at the first session of the INC, which will be hosted by Uruguay. The IN B analysis of the meeting indicates that only five negotiating sessions have been scheduled, and “whether or not this negotiating timetable is realistic is… up for debate”.
In addition to the INC process, other bodies are leading work related to marine litter and microplastics, including the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (Basel Convention), the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), World Health Organization (WHO), World Trade Organization (WTO) and various regional seas programs and conventions. [ENB Coverage of the Open-ended Working Group Meeting] [UNEP Meeting Webpage] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story about IISD Brief on Confronting the Plastic Pollution Pandemic]