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Round Three of Global Plastics Treaty Talks Begins

The third weeklong round of negotiations to hammer out a global plastics treaty kicked off today in Nairobi, Kenya, after a preparatory meeting Saturday, as the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) seeks to develop a legally binding instrument regulating plastic pollution worldwide.

Delegates are pursuing a “comprehensive approach that addresses the full cycle of plastic, including its production, design, and disposal,” according to the U.N.’s website.

Working from a “zero draft” document of possible policies and actions to consider, delegates “are at a pivotal moment in this process,” negotiation observer Andres Del Castillo asserted to Reuters. Des Castillo is a senior attorney of the Center for International Environmental Law.

Among the issues to be discussed in the third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-3) from today through Sunday (Nov. 13 to 19) are:

• The principles and scope of the instrument;

• institutional arrangements including a potential governing body, subsidiary bodies, and secretariat;

• possible final provisions.

Larger plastics producers and consumers — especially Russia, India, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, China, and the United States — have been cited as promoting a treaty that regulates a more circular approach to controlling plastic waste. Urging stricter measures is a 55-nation coalition and environmental activists who aim to end plastic pollution with an agreement that enforces some combination of caps on plastic production, restrictions on hazardous chemicals, and bans on hard-to-recycle plastics.

The UNEP resolved in March 2022 to pursue a global plastics treaty, followed by negotiating sessions INC-1 in Uruguay from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2, 2022, and INC-2 in Paris from May 29 to June 2, 2023. INC-4 is scheduled for April 21 to 30, 2024, in Ottawa. UNEP’s goal is to complete negotiations by the end of 2024.

The full INC-3 meeting schedule is available online.

Watch the INC-3 preparatory meeting (two parts), as well as sessions from INC-1 and INC-2. Live broadcasts can be seen on UN Web TV.

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