While most delegations seem to agree that there are negative effects surrounding plastic pollution, it was clear they have yet to find common ground on the details and contents of key substantive themes that will determine the scope and guide the implementation of the future international treaty.
In February 2022, in a welcome move by millions fighting the global plastic pollution crisis, the resumed fifth meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) adopted resolution 5/14 to “End plastic pollution: Towards an international legally binding instrument.” Plastic pollution is a threat to human health and the environment, with reports highlighting the presence of microplastic in human blood, lungs, breast milk, and placenta, suggesting that plastic is embedded in throughout the food chain.
In UNEA resolution 5/14, governments requested the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director to convene an intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) with the mandate to develop an international legally binding instrument (ILBI) on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, commencing its work during the second half of 2022.
The ILBI on plastic pollution could eventually include both binding and voluntary approaches addressing the full lifecycle of plastic. At INC-1, delegates are set to consider, among others:
- the Committee’s rules of procedure;
- what is to be included in the ILBI;
- how the INC process could be structured for the ILBI to be concluded by the end of 2024;
- the broad options for the ILBI’s structure to ensure it addresses the full life cycle of plastic, including in the marine environment;
- the scope, objectives, and options for potential elements to be included in the ILBI; and
- the ILBI’s potential final provisions.
Just prior to the meeting, a multi-stakeholder forum is set to convene to encourage the broad exchange of information and activities related to plastic pollution.
INC-1 will convene in the Punta del Este, Uruguay from 28 November - 2 December 2022, with the multi-stakeholder dialogues convening on 26 November 2022.
Ad hoc Open-ended Working Group to Prepare for the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to End Plastic Pollution