The commencement of the third round of international negotiations to address plastic pollution took place in Nairobi, Kenya. Delegates from 175 countries convened at the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON) for a five-day discussion, with the overarching goal of formulating a treaty to mitigate global plastic pollution.
Marking a pivotal moment, this round of negotiations sees delegates delving into a draft treaty for the first time. The preliminary version, released in September as Version 0, currently encompasses a spectrum of proposals, ranging from the more modest to the more stringent measures.
A critical focal point, as emphasized by an environmental activist in Kenya, lies in determining whether the treaty will impose unilateral restrictions or grant each state the autonomy to define its approach to combating plastic pollution.
Approximately sixty countries, including Rwanda, Norway, and European Union members, advocate for binding provisions. In contrast, the United States, China, India, and Saudi Arabia seek to retain the flexibility to set their objectives and methods, prioritizing recycling over a reduction in plastic production.
Presently, only 9% of the global plastic production, which has surged to 460 million tons annually according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), undergoes recycling. The production has more than doubled in the past two decades and could triple by 2060 if left unabated.
Following the Nairobi negotiations, two additional rounds of discussions are slated to occur in Canada and South Korea, culminating in the formulation of a treaty by the end of 2024. As the world grapples with the escalating challenge of plastic pollution, these deliberations hold the promise of shaping international efforts to address this pressing environmental concern.