The ministers highlight limitations and challenges developing countries, and especially SIDS, face with respect to the impacts of plastic pollution.
They recognize the need for common legally binding obligations and control measures in the treaty and the need to cooperate with stakeholders and other partners to ensure alignment of efforts to end plastic pollution.
The High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution (HAC) issued a joint ministerial statement ahead of the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (INC-2). The HAC ministers express alarm at the acceleration of primary plastic production globally, highlight that over 40% of current production is destined for single use, and recognize that, currently, the world is incapable of managing plastic waste in an environmentally sound manner.
The HAC, which is comprised of 56 countries and is co-chaired by Rwanda and Norway, has expressed its commitment to end plastic pollution by 2040.
In the joint statement, the ministers underscore their concern regarding the release and accumulation of microplastics, which can contain, carry, and release chemicals of concern, including through people consuming certain foods, such as seafood, fruits, vegetables, inhaling airborne particles, and ingesting microplastics in drinking water. The ministers also mention limitations and challenges developing countries, and especially small island developing States (SIDS), face with respect to the impacts of plastic pollution. They recognize the need for common legally binding obligations and control measures in the treaty and the need to cooperate with stakeholders and other partners to ensure alignment of efforts to end plastic pollution.
The statement calls for binding provisions to:
- restrain and reduce the production and consumption of primary plastic polymers to sustainable levels;
- eliminate and restrict unnecessary, avoidable, or problematic plastics, as well as plastic polymers, chemical constituents, and plastic products of particular concern, taking into account the precautionary principle and their impact on circularity;
- increase the safe circularity of plastics in the economy, including through targets in key areas, such as on reduction, repairability, environmentally sound and safe recyclability and reuse, refill systems, and the use of recycled content;
- ensure reporting and transparency in production quantities, material, chemical and product composition, traceability, and labeling across plastics value chains;
- prevent plastic waste, but if this is not possible, manage the waste in an environmentally sound and safe manner, consistent with other international instruments;
- eliminate the release of plastics, including microplastics, to air, water, and land, and address specific sources of plastic pollution, including, but not limited to, microplastics intentionally added in products, the release of plastic pellets, and loss of fishing gear, building on other international instruments;
- remediate existing plastic pollution, recognizing its disproportionate negative socioeconomic and environmental consequences in developing countries; and
- establish a multi-stakeholder action agenda, focusing on specific sectors, to support implementation of the treaty, with zero tolerance for “greenwashing,” and share knowledge, scientific evidence, expertise, and technology, while mobilizing financial resources and aligning financial flows to support implementation.
The statement also calls on countries to take immediate actions to reduce plastic pollution and to take preparatory steps to strengthen domestic policy and approaches, including for national action plans, in anticipation of the treaty. It calls for progress at INC-2, to ensure conclusion of its work by the end of 2024, including by establishing the Bureau to support the Chair and the INC’s work, provisionally agreeing on the treaty’s objectives to guide the INC negotiations, preparing draft treaty text for consideration at INC-3, and deciding on work for the intersessional period.
INC-2 is meeting from 29 May to 2 June in Paris, France. [HAC Joint Ministerial Statement]