Critical negotiations to end plastic pollution begin Tuesday

New Delhi: Negotiators from 176 countries are meeting this week for the fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee in Ottawa, Canada, to develop an international legally binding instrument against plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, by the end of 2024, to promote the development of a global agreement . .

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

According to the United Nations Environment Program (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 talks for the fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to reach an internationally legally binding instrument against 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 its source – if governments truly live up to their responsibilities to people, the environment, wildlife and the climate. Ambition must be more than just words.

Plastic production and waste will triple by 2060, and by 2040, up to 37 million tons of plastic pollution could end up in the oceans every year. This leaves a legacy of environmental impacts for future generations.

According to Canada, host country of the summit, plastic pollution costs more than $2 trillion annually, a burden that falls largely on the shoulders of local communities. Without new and effective control measures and without more international cooperation, the global plastic pollution crisis will worsen.

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

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

Canada kicks off the session with a series of events organized in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund.

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

No final agreement is expected during INC-4; however, it is the crucial point in laying the foundation for a successful conclusion of 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 G7 Presidency in 2018, 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 movement towards a circular plastic economy.

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

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

“This negotiating session is crucial. It is an opportunity to make significant progress toward a robust agreement that enables 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, soil and the ocean.

Ahead of the negotiations, UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen said the financial sector had a crucial role to play in mitigating financial risks to combat plastic pollution.

“Great to see the global financial sector – from India to the US – calling 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.

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

By signing the declaration, financial institutions recognize that the financial sector plays an important role in mitigating financial risks associated with plastic pollution and take this opportunity to inform negotiators on what a robust agreement would entail from their perspective.