How are the negotiations on plastic progressing?

How are the negotiations on plastic progressing?


The first two days of negotiations on a legally binding agreement to address plastic pollution focused solely on the draft Rules of Procedure.

On the third day, discussions finally turned to contact groups.

Many countries stressed the need for an agreement that included: limiting plastic production and eliminating the problem of plastics and toxic chemicals, including plastic additives, problematic polymers and toxic substances used in plastics production. Countries also supported covering the plastics value chain and protecting the most vulnerable communities.

Many countries advocated preparing a “zero draft” of the treaty for discussion at the third meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC3), allowing the negotiating committee to keep pace with the substantive work. The agreement must be completed by the end of 2024.

NGOs, indigenous peoples, women, vulnerable communities, trade unions, workers, scientists and other civil society representatives have also made statements calling to: drastically reduce plastic production, stop the expansion of the petrochemical industry, encourage reuse systems, ban toxic chemicals and disclose their presence in plastics, stop incineration and ensure just transition for workers, including waste pickers.

Because much time was lost early in the negotiations, countries have even less time to agree on a mandate for a “zero draft” treaty text by the end of this week.

The draft Rules of Procedure are still pending and remain provisionally applicable, as agreed at INC1. The countries agreed to an interpretative statement under Rule 38.1 (adoption of decisions by a two-thirds majority vote as a last resort if all efforts to reach consensus have been exhausted).

Undoubtedly, the “provisional” draft Rules of Procedure will be discussed again at INC-3.

Despite the complex process of registering to speak, not all observers present were allowed to express their position in plenary. However, their statements were sent to the Secretariat and should be uploaded on INC2 website.

Contact groups did not begin until 7:30 p.m. With only two days left in this round of talks, it is urgent to get to substantive discussions now.

After the plenary, delegates and observers split into two groups: Group 1 will be responsible for the legally binding elements of the future treaty, and Group 2 will discuss implementation measures.

Group 1 began with a discussion of the Objective of the future treaty. The majority supported Option A: End plastic pollution; protect human health and the environment from its adverse effects throughout the life cycle of plastic.

HEJSupport speaking on behalf of UN Womens’ Majopr Group stressed that the Objective of the future treaty should include the following additions marked bold:
Mindful of the precautionary approach to end plastic pollution, including chemical components; protect human health and the environment from its adverse effects throughout the life cycle of plastic; and ensure human rights, justice, fairness and equity.

The work in Group 2 focused on the discussion of the text on national action plans (NAPs) and the participation of stakeholders, including civil society organizations, in their development and implementation.

Regarding stakeholder engagement, non-governmental organizations suggested that states identify rights holders, such as waste collectors, indigenous peoples and communities most affected by plastic during production and processing. Rights holders should sit at the table in national and international decision-making processes, including phasing out production, a fair transition, and other issues.

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Written by Olga Speranskaya