As concerns about the scourge of plastic pollution mount worldwide, delegates shared their views on the “full life cycle of plastic,” with some favoring measures addressing plastic production, and others favoring downstream measures to eliminate plastic waste. Still others focused on how best to ensure lasting design standards for plastic products.
Humankind is living in the age of plastic. Due to its affordability and multiple uses—some of them vital—plastic is everywhere. From healthcare to homecare, plastic is an essential part of our everyday life. As its uses have evolved, an increasing number of hazardous chemical additives are now included in plastic products, including many that have been found to be carcinogenic. Unfortunately, it is a “forever” material, taking hundreds of years to disintegrate. Each article of single-use plastic, used once and discarded, will outlive the consumer.
No corner of the planet has been left untouched by plastic pollution. Plastic waste fills landfills, chokes waterways, and pollutes the Ocean. It has been found in marine and terrestrial species and ecosystems, with studies confirming its presence in human breastmilk, placenta, and blood. One 2023 study confirmed the presence of micro- and nano-plastic particles in the rain. Certain plastic polymers have been classified as hazardous under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal.
Responding to global calls for action to address this growing scourge, in 2022 the UN Environment Assembly adopted historic resolution 5/14 to end plastic pollution. The resolution established an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) to craft an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment.
The INC, scheduled to complete its work in five sessions before the end of 2024, has met twice since November 2022. At INC-3, delegates will base their discussions on a Zero Draft of the future instrument, prepared by INC Chair Gustavo Meza-Cuadra Velásquez (Peru) and the Secretariat, based on the views expressed during the first two sessions.
The objectives of the session are to:
- advance the development of the instrument using the Zero Draft as a basis;
- identify the possible content of provisions on elements not discussed at INC-2, including those related to principles, definitions and scope. They will be guided by, among others, a synthesis report prepared by the Secretariat and the Co-Facilitators summary, with a view to developing a complete first draft text for consideration at INC-4; and
- consider and decide on any intersessional work required for the last two INC sessions.
The Zero Draft contains sections broadly addressing: the life cycle of plastics and plastic products with the aim of addressing plastic pollution; means of implementation; and implementation plans and institutional arrangements. The Draft currently has placeholders for the first section related to the objectives, principles and scope, which delegates may discuss for the first time during the session. It also contains placeholders related to final provisions.
INC-3 will be preceded by a one-day preparatory meeting on 11 November and regional consultations on 12 November 2023. INC-3 will convene from 13 to 19 November 2023 at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) writers for this meeting are Tallash Kantai; Matthew Hengesbaugh; Katarina Hovden; and Jose F. Pinto-Bazurco, Ph.D. The Digital Editor is Anastasia Rodopoulou. The Editor is Pam 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)
3rd Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to Develop an International Legally Binding Instrument on Plastic Pollution, Including in the Marine Environment (INC-3)
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