Countries Commit to End Plastic Pollution With Legally Binding Agreement by 2024

Nations commit to develop a legally binding agreement to ed plastic pollution

The United Nations Environment Assembly on Wednesday unanimously agreed to develop a legally binding treaty to end plastic pollution by 2024.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Inger Andersen said the development is the most important environmental deal since the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The resolution is based on three initial draft resolutions from various countries, establishes an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC), which will begin its work in 2022, with the ambition of completing a draft global legally binding agreement by the end of 2024.

The three draft resolutions of Peru, Rwanda and Japan were based on the principle of a legally binding target. 

“The world has come together to act against plastic pollution — a serious threat to our planet. International partnerships will be crucial in tackling a problem that affects all of us and the progress made at UNEA reflects this spirit of collaboration,” Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Rwanda’s Minister of Environment, said.

“We look forward to working with the INC and are optimistic about the opportunity to create a legally binding treaty as a framework for national ambition-setting, monitoring, investment and knowledge transfer to end plastic pollution,” she added.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) will convene a forum by the end of 2022 that is open to all stakeholders in conjunction with the first session of the INC, to share knowledge and best practices in different parts of the world. It will facilitate open discussions and ensure they are informed by science, reporting on progress throughout the next two years. Finally, upon completion of the INC’s work, UNEP will convene a diplomatic conference to adopt its outcome and open it for signatures.

“Today marks a triumph by planet earth over single-use plastics. This is the most significant environmental multilateral deal since the Paris accord. It is an insurance policy for this generation and future ones, so they may live with plastic and not be doomed by it.” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.

“Let it be clear that the INC’s mandate does not grant any stakeholder a two-year pause. In parallel to negotiations over an international binding agreement, UNEP will work with any willing government and business across the value chain to shift away from single-use plastics, as well as to mobilise private finance and remove barriers to investments in research and in a new circular economy,” Andersen added.

The historic resolution, titled “End Plastic Pollution: Towards an internationally legally binding instrument” was adopted with the conclusion of the three-day UNEA-5.2 meeting.

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