New treaty on plastic pollution: outcome and follow-up

The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) on Plastic Pollution met for its second session in Paris (May 29-June 2, 2023) to resume negotiations on a legally binding international instrument on plastic pollution.

While the time-frame for the negotiations is relatively short (the treaty is expected to be finalized by the end of 2024), delegations agreed to head towards a “Zero draft” at the end of session. In other words, this will be a first iteration of the future treaty on plastic pollution. As of 2024-2025, the expected outcome is a legally binding treaty that should quickly be ratified by as many States as possible and promptly enter into force. It should open the door to international mechanisms of regulation, monitoring of plastic pollution, recycling, and efficient management worldwide.

The outcome of the last session is rather weak when it comes to taking Local and Regional Governments (LRGs) into account in the intergovernmental negotiations or in relation to the substantive issues discussed. While the treaty simply cannot be implemented without direct action from local authorities, none of the Co-facilitators Summaries from Contact groups 1 and 2 mentions them.

In the corridors of the Paris negotiations, diplomats say that to simplify the work of the negotiating States, LRGs should clearly voice their expectations. The inter-sessional work will have to develop language adapted to LRGs based on the Zero Draft that will be published ahead of the 3rd session of the INC (Nairobi, 13-17 November).

The Cities Hub hopes the next INC sessions will develop structured messages, and a specific language to convince the States to meaningfully involve LRGs, as they are on the frontline of the fight against plastic pollution.

The Geneva Cities Hub’s statement at the second session of the INC in Paris clearly points the way forward in terms of LRG participation in the negotiations”, underlined Kamelia Kemileva, Co-Director of the GCH.

In addition, Magash Naidoo from ICLEI delivered a statement on behalf of the Local Authorities’ Major Group to reaffirm the crucial role of the local and regional levels to holistically address the plastic pollution crisis through a circular economy. He recalled that, while the development of a global treaty is a golden opportunity, it will only be successful if it reflects the needs of all levels of governance. See his full statement here.

More information on the INC-2 discussions and the outcome documents can be found here.

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