Leaders from 173 countries agreed to develop a legally binding treaty on plastics. What is the purpose of this resolution? What are the next steps?
An international and legally binding treaty against plastic pollution? That’s what 173 countries committed to on March 2, 2022 in Nairobi, after a week of negotiations (and years of discussions and preparation by working groups of scientists, civil society members and NGOs)
This first step is meant to be historic: indeed, this resolution is the largest multilateral environmental agreement since the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The objective of the UNEP Assembly was first to set the course: to establish the mandate (i.e. the scope of the mission) of an intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) in drafting this treaty.
Two proposals were submitted for consideration, the first drafted by Japan and calling for the regulation of marine plastic pollution, and the other drafted by Rwanda and Peru calling for the regulation of pollution throughout the plastic life cycle, from production to end-of-life.
In the end, the more ambitious and integrated approach was chosen: the mandate covers the production and design of plastics, not just the waste. The resolution established an intergovernmental negotiating committee to draft and ratify the treaty. It will begin work this year and aims to complete by 2024.
“Against the backdrop of geopolitical turmoil, the UN Environment Assembly shows multilateral cooperation at its best,” said Espen Barth Eide, president of UNEA-5 and Norway’s minister for climate and environment.
Like the Montreal Protocol, the agreement ratified in 1987 that saved the ozone layer and limited global warming, a treaty against plastic pollution will unite the world around preserving the oceans and its biodiversity against the plastic threat.
This is just the beginning of the journey. As an observer member of the United Nations Environment Programme Task Force on Marine Plastic Pollution, The SeaCleaners continues the fight against plastic pollution, so that this treaty retains its ambition and determination until its final adoption in 2024.