While the meeting was characterized by procedural scuffles, long delays, and late nights, delegates shared views on an options paper and set out a path for the intersessional period leading to the next negotiating session, mandating the preparation of a “zero draft” of the new treaty to address plastics pollution.
Plastic, a currently indispensable manmade material, is wreaking havoc on environmental ecosystems all over planet Earth. With over 6.5 billion tonnes circulating on the planet, plastic pollution has been found in every ecosystem, from the highest peaks to the deepest depths. Micro- and nano-plastic particles have also been observed in human placenta, blood, and breast milk, posing threats to human health due to the toxic additives in plastic products.
In recognition of the impacts of plastic emissions to both human health and the environment, in March 2022 the world welcomed the historic resolution 5/14 adopted by the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) to “End plastic pollution: Towards an international legally binding instrument.”
Backed by a growing body of science and knowledge and driven by a tide of public opinion from all over the world, negotiators came together at the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument (ILBI) on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (INC-2).
During INC-2, negotiators based their substantive discussions on a document containing potential options for elements towards an ILBI, based on a comprehensive approach that addresses the full life cycle of plastics as called for by UNEA resolution 5/14. The “elements paper” contains options pertaining to the objective, substantive provisions including core obligations, control measures, voluntary and/or legally binding approaches, implementation measures, and means of implementation, to be included in the future treaty.
Moving from broad concepts to more concrete ideas, the objectives of INC-2 were to:
- advance the development of the ILBI on plastic pollution, based on the “elements paper”;
- identify areas where more information is required to inform and support the negotiations, including any additional work to be carried out during the intersessional period; and
- decide on the necessary procedural and organizational matters for the continuation of effective negotiations at INC-3 and beyond.
Many expected delegates to address the “elements paper” with a view to finding points of convergence among the various options, and identifying areas that would benefit from further information and discussion at subsequent sessions of the INC.
At this meeting, delegations also elected 10 vice-presidents to the bureau, a decision that was postponed from INC-1. Delegations also addressed the rules of procedure, specifically related to the participation and voting rights of regional economic integration organizations.
INC-2 took place at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, from 29 May – 2 June 2023.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) writers for this meeting were Tallash Kantai, Matthew Hengesbaugh, Katarina Hovden, and Jose F. Pinto-Bazurco, Ph.D. The Digital Editor was Kiara Worth, Ph.D. The Editor was Pamela Chasek, Ph.D.
Ad hoc Open-ended Working Group to Prepare for the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to End Plastic Pollution
1st Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (INC-1)
2nd Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to Develop an International Legally Binding Instrument on Plastic Pollution, Including in the Marine Environment (INC-2)
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