The 64 members of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution (HAC) have issued a ministerial joint statement in advance of the fourth round of talks towards a plastic treaty. The ministers reaffirm their shared commitment to end plastic pollution by 2040 and call for “binding provisions to restrain and reduce the production and consumption of primary plastic polymers to sustainable levels.”

They encourage all Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) members to “intensify their efforts to establish areas of shared understanding and convergence… to make substantive progress on the revised draft text, and decide upon intersessional work needed to agree on an ambitious treaty by the end of 2024.”

Emphasizing the comprehensive and holistic approach outlined in the resolution of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) mandating the negotiations, the ministers call for net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the plastics system and stress the need to align treaty provisions with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the relevant targets of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), the Global Framework on Chemicals (GFC), and the goals of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions.

The ministers acknowledge that “the socioeconomic and environmental costs of inaction are significantly higher than those for appropriate control measures” and that those costs will be “disproportionally borne by developing countries,” especially least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing States (SIDS). They affirm that a fair, equitable, and inclusive transition needs to support sustainable development and give special consideration to “people and groups in vulnerable situations.”

The joint statement stresses that ending plastic pollution will require “common legally binding global rules and control measures,” based on best available science, to, inter alia:

  • eliminate and restrict unnecessary, avoidable, and problematic plastic products as well as plastic polymers and chemicals of environmental or health concern;
  • establish global criteria or requirements for products, including on durability, reuse, repair, and recycling;
  • ensure a safe circular economy for plastics that protects the environment and human health;
  • achieve the environmentally sound management of plastic waste;
  • eliminate the release of plastics, including microplastics, to air, water, and land; and
  • remediate and, where feasible, eliminate plastic pollution, using the best available techniques and environmental practices to avoid exacerbating environmental harm.

The ministers call for the treaty to include mechanisms for strengthening commitments and controls over time. They further: underscore the vital role of common global rules and economic tools for the private sector; emphasize that the polluter-pays principle, including extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes, is part of the solution; and highlight the need for binding measures and provisions on transparency, labeling, and monitoring and reporting across the full life cycle of plastics.

The statement underscores the need to mobilize the necessary resources from public, private, domestic, and international sources for timely, accessible, recurrent, predictable, and adequate financing for implementation. The ministers emphasize “the need to align financial flows and policies to deliver action on the ground, and to end harmful incentives such as subsidies that work against the goal to end plastic pollution.”

The members of the High Ambition Coalition are Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Benin, Belgium, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, the EU, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greenland, Guinea, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Panama, Peru, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Romania, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Togo, the UK, and Uruguay.

The penultimate session of the INC to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (INC-4) convenes in Ottawa, Canada, from 23-29 April 2024. The talks are scheduled to conclude at INC-5 at the end of 2024. [HAC Member States Ministerial Joint Statement for INC-4