Global Plastics Treaty: the role of the Innovation Alliance

The Ocean Cleanup is a co-founder of the IAGPT (Innovation Alliance for a Global Plastic Treaty). The SeaCleaners interviewed Rosa Heuveling van Beek to find out more.

Can you tell us what led to the creation of this alliance and when it was set up?  

The Innovation Alliance for a Global Plastics Treaty (IAGPT) is a not-for-profit, multi-stakeholder initiative consisting of

  • Alliance Members (startups, implementers, associations)
  • Innovation Champions (enablers, investors, philanthropies)
  • Scientific Council (renowned circular economy research and academic experts).

The idea for this cross-sector alliance came from the glaring lack of representation of solutionists at the first negotiations summit for a Global Plastic Treaty in 2022. The alliance aims to bridge the gap between innovation and policy, by bringing the innovation ecosystem to the forefront of this important policy process and accelerate progress against plastic waste. IAGPT was convened by rePurpose Global and The Ocean Cleanup and now consists of 108 members.

Why is it crucial to consider innovation in the Treaty? The innovation ecosystem has largely developed out of sight from national and global policymakers. The Global Plastics Treaty has the potential to fundamentally change our world’s relationship with plastic waste in the coming years. But a treaty negotiations process that does not actively involve innovators, risks sounding promising on paper but failing to empower workable solutions on the ground. By actively involving solutionists in the negotiation process, the Alliance seeks to ensure that the new treaty reflects the latest advancements and addresses challenges in the plastic innovation ecosystem and fosters an enabling environment for innovation to thrive.

What is its purpose? 

Our Goal: The IAGPT aim to serve as a crucial bridge: connecting innovation to policymaking and breaking the silo between the two ecosystems.

We aim to promote the role of innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship in the Global Plastics Treaty negotiations and accelerate systems change across the entire plastic pollution lifecycle, from source to sea.

Our specific objectives are:

  • A voice for innovation: Ensure that technology & business model innovations across the entire plastics value chain are considered and prioritized in the Global Plastics Treaty
  • A seat at the table: Facilitate representation of solutionists at Treaty negotiating summits as well as events & exchanges that help bring their unique perspectives to policymakers
  • Building awareness: Create awareness about the Global Plastics Treaty, as well as the state and progress of tangible solutions against plastic pollution
  • Data-driven policymaking: Aggregate and systematize existing data on plastic pollution impacts currently held by individual startups and innovators across the value chain in order to guide policy decision-making and enable treaty monitoring & evaluation.
  • Power of partnership: Bring together, for the first time, an innovation ecosystem that has so far been tackling the plastic problem within individual silos, and increase the level of engagement between public and private entities to move the needle on plastic pollution.
  • Promote environmental justice: Prioritize sustained economic & employment opportunities, especially within vulnerable communities, engage with waste worker communities and promote the value of indigenous knowledge to accelerate the implementation & scale-up of innovative solutions across the plastics value chain, from source to sea.

How can a member become active within the Alliance? Before, during and after the INCs. 

There are multiple ways members can be active. They can participate in our webinars, giving visibility to their solutions and equally as important – their challenges. This allows us to identify and understand common challenges for innovators along the life-cycle of plastics. The IAGPT takes these learnings to INC and engagements with policymakers, channeling the voices of innovators.

Our members also organize their own events and have their own projects. The IAGPT can support them by sharing milestones and promoting their work.

What impact has the Alliance had to date? 

The Alliance is a bridge between the innovation and policymaking ecosystems. We attend INCs to directly engage with policymakers, bringing the needs of innovators into the Global Plastics Treaty process. We have hosted events during INC, such as our collaboration with B:Bot to showcase the innovation. Before INCs we host webinars in collaboration with international organizations and alliances, giving opportunities to members to directly communicate a range of stakeholders.

In addition to the Global Plastics Treaty, the Alliance also attends conferences such as NOSCA Clean Oceans Arena. The Alliance also promotes initiatives of our members by connecting them to other innovators around the world and to policy makers.

What role does it play in the Global Plastic Treaty negotiations? 

The IAGPT highlights existing solutions and common challenges faced by innovators to policy makers. We engage with our members to learn about their innovations to understand the existing solutions landscape in different stages of the plastic life-cycle. The IAGPT engages with policymakers to demonstrate that (1) solutions exist and (2) what kind of regulatory support is needed to catalyze change and the impact of the solution.  

At INC3, IAGPT also provided a text suggestion on financing for the new instrument, and delivered this during an oral statement and proposal on finance at INC3 and through bilateral meetings with governments. 

Before and during the INCs the IAGPT also act as a platform to showcase best practices and emerging solutions to tackle plastic pollution.For example in the lead up to INC-3, we held a webinar on the topic of “Financing to scale up solutions and innovations” supported by the Nairobi Group of Friends.

What are the issues at stake in the next round of INC4 in Ottawa, Canada, at the end of April? 

For innovators the primary issue at stake is financing mechanisms. Existing solutions that can contribute to ending plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, require financial support to scale-up. Many innovations have passed the proof-of-concept stage, but in order to make an impact innovators need access to finance. There are many ways the Global Plastics Treaty can support this, from establishing funds to introducing flexible financing instruments, for example outcomes-based financing instruments. How funding will be incorporated in the new Treaty is still in early stages, we expect INC4 to provide more clarity on funding mechanisms.

What issues does the Alliance want to push for? 

Our key policy priorities are:

  1. Improve access to rapid and flexible finance for innovators across the value chain
  2. Recognize, safeguard, and promote the inclusion of existing innovations within national and global regulatory frameworks
  3. Leverage data and insights from the innovation ecosystem towards informed policymaking and effective regulation enforcement
  4. Prioritize and provide impetus to scalable and inclusive approaches that efficiently tackle different facets of the plastics problem

Is it realistic to think that the States will reach a final treaty at INC5, or are we heading for an inevitable INC6? 

It is difficult to answer with certainty, this will depend on the progress made at INC4. Though there is great urgency to create a legally binding instrument, it is also important to have an ambitious treaty that can have a global impact. Whether this requires an extra round of negotiations is still to be determined.

Once the Treaty is ratified, what will be the role of the Alliance? 

After ratification is the implementation process and the Conference of the Parties. The focus of the IAGPT is now on the process of developing the Treaty. We are looking into how IAGPT can transition after ratification into a new role in which we will continue to act as a bridge between innovators and policy makers and leverage insights and data from members. 


Thank you Rosa Heuveling van Beek for all your answers!


Would you like to become a member of the alliance?

It is still possible to join. Are you interested? Find out more or apply here.