Critical negotiations to end plastic pollution to begin on Tuesday

National |  IANS  | Published :

New Delhi, April 22 (IANS) Negotiators from 176 countries will gather this week for the fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee in Ottawa, Canada to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment to advance the development a global agreement, by the end of 2024.

In a message on Earth Day which falls on April 22, UN Secretary General António Guterres says: “Plastics know no border. Every living being and every part of the planet is harmed by plastics and their production. To beat plastic pollution, we need a strong plastics treaty that upholds human rights and addresses the full life cycle of plastics.”

According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which is hosting the talks from April 23 to 29, delegates from 174 countries are expected to gather in the Canadian capital for the next round of discussions for the Fourth Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (INC-4).

It is the penultimate meeting before negotiations are expected to conclude later this year.

According to Greenpeace Canada, the global plastics treaty has the potential to stop the plastic pollution crisis at the source -- if governments truly step up and uphold their responsibility to the people, environment, wildlife, and the climate. Ambition needs to be more than just words.

Plastic production and waste are set to triple by 2060, and up to 37 million metric tons of plastic pollution could be entering oceans every year by 2040. This is leaving a legacy of environmental impacts for future generations.

According to the summit host Canada, plastic pollution costs more than $2 trillion every year, a burden that is largely held by local communities. Without new and effective control measures, and increased international cooperation, the global plastic pollution crisis will intensify.

During the conference, the Canadian delegation, led by Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault, will convene with international partners from around the world to help drive ambition and alignment on addressing plastic pollution.

INC-4 is the fourth negotiating session of five sessions being coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme. INC-4 represents the penultimate moment to unite the world around a shared goal to end plastic pollution.

Canada is kicking off the session with a series of events organised in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund.

Negotiation sessions will start on April 23, where countries will continue to work through the possible scope, wording, and mechanisms, including financial tools, to include in the new legally binding treaty on plastic pollution.

No final agreement is anticipated at INC-4; however, it is the critical point to build the foundations for a successful conclusion to the negotiations at INC-5 in Korea later this year.

Canada has taken many actions to address the growing global challenge of plastic pollution, including the launch of the Ocean Plastics Charter during Canada’s 2018 G7 Presidency, the introduction of a domestic ban on harmful single-use plastics, the implementation of its comprehensive plan to reduce plastic waste and pollution, and its move toward a circular plastics economy.

Canada is also an inaugural member of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution, a group of more than 60 countries representing every United Nations region, with the goal to end plastic pollution by 2040 and develop an ambitious and effective global agreement.

“Both people and the planet are suffering profoundly from the effects of plastic pollution,” said Jyoti Mathur-Filipp, Executive Secretary of the INC.

“This negotiating session is pivotal. It is an opportunity to make significant progress for a robust agreement that would allow future generations to live in a world free of plastic pollution.”

Since the 1950s, 9.2 billion tons of plastic have been?produced, of which 7 billion tons have become waste, filling up landfills and polluting lakes, rivers, the soil and the ocean.

Ahead of the negotiations, UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen said the finance sector has a critical role to play in mitigating financial risks to beat plastic pollution.

“Great to see the global finance industry -- from India to the US -- call for an ambitious plastics treaty,” Andersen wrote on X.

One hundred and sixty financial institutions and two industry stakeholders from around the world are calling on governments to negotiate an ambitious treaty to end plastic pollution ahead of negotiations.

Representing $15.5 trillion in combined assets, signatories of the Finance Statement on Plastic Pollution come from all regions, including a strong voice from OECD countries, and notably 15 signatures from Asian financial institutions, including India, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan and Korea, where the next and final round of negotiation will take place before the end of 2024.

In signing the Statement, financial institutions acknowledge that the finance sector has an important role in mitigating financial risks related to plastic pollution and they are taking this opportunity to inform negotiators what a robust agreement would include from their perspective.

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