© Elisabeth Kruger/WWF-US

A global solution to a global problem

Currently, an estimated 9 - 14 million tons of plastic waste ends up in our oceans every year. Plastic waste has been found in all areas of the globe, from the deepest seas to the most remote mountains. It causes major harm to wildlife and ecosystems, but also disrupts the livelihood of millions of people, as well as posing significant risk to human health and the world economy.

Regulation and voluntary measures at a national level have proven ineffective in stopping plastic from polluting and poisoning our planet. In fact, it is only getting worse. In order to effectively and decisively deal with the plastic crisis, the world needs a new set of common rules and regulations that address plastic throughout its entire lifecycle.

UNEA 5.2 in Nairobi Plastic Petition rel= © Markus Winkler /WWF Germany

A once-in-a-generaiton opportunity

In March 2022 UN Member States agreed to start negotiating the content of a new legally binding, global instrument to end plastic pollution. This historic decision is a major leap towards  plastic free environments for all. The framework is now being negotiated throughout a series of meetings across the globe, and is expected to be adopted by 2025.

The negotiation of a new treaty on plastic pollution provides a unique opportunity to unlock systemic change across the global plastics economy by ensuring states abide by common, high-impact measures and holding them accountable if they fail to do so.

The first Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee meeting, INC-1, took place in December 2022 in Uruguay. It showed a promising start to the negotiations with 145 countries backing calls for binding global rules and standards.

The crucial next phase

The second negotiation meeting, INC-2, will take place in Paris, France between 29th May and 2nd June2023. This meeting will be a pivotal moment in addressing plastic pollution, and protecting our planet through an ambitious treaty.

In Paris, procedural questions will be landed, and the meeting will provide crucial guidance for the content of the first treaty draft. It is expected that the Chair of the negotiations, supported by the INC secretariat, will be tasked with preparing this draft before INC-3 in Kenya in November. With so much at stake, WWF will contribute to this process by participating in these negotiations and in the global effort to combat plastic pollution. The INC-2 meeting represents a critical step forward in our shared mission to create a more sustainable and equitable future for all.

 The fisherman Saiful in Sundarbans, Bangladesh, Mangrove forest.
© Troy Enekvist / WWF-Sweden

Due to the unique and critical nature of the treaty, WWF is calling on all stakeholders to ensure that we act decisively. Government negotiators must:

1) Propose binding global measures to ban, reduce, safely circulate and manage specific high-risk plastics

2) Prioritize plastics with high pollution risks, including product groups, applications, chemicals and polymers of concern

3) Specify high-risk plastics suitable for immediate global bans and phase-outs, in particular single-use, short-lived plastic products such as single-use cutlery, plates, cups, cotton bud sticks and cigarette filters

4) Call for effective implementation measures, including technical and financial assistance, technology transfers and capacity strengthening; paying special attention to the needs of least developed countries and small island developing states;

5) Order the preparation and publication of the treaty’s first draft (“zero draft”), that includes these specific proposals, before INC-3.

Towards a global treaty to end plastic pollution
28. November
The first negotiating meeting (INC-1) took place in Punta del Este in Uruguay 28. November - 2. December 2022. During the meeting, more than 145 countries backed calls for strong global rules to stop plastic pollution. 
August 2022
Norway and Rwanda, joined by 18 other countries, launch the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution by 2040.
02. March 2022
A historic moment! UN Member States adopts Resolution 5/14, titled “End Plastic Pollution: Towards an international legally binding instrument”.
March 2022
More than 2.2 million individuals signs WWF's plastics petition. The petition is handed over to the UNEA president and Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment, Espen Barth Eide, during UNEA in Nairobi.
January 2022
More than 70 leading businesses and financial institutions call on governments to develop and adopt a comprehensive and robust legally binding treaty on plastic pollution.
December 2021
During COP22 in Barcelona, the Mediterranean countries declare their support for a global plastic treaty. With this, 156 countries, more than two-thirds of the UN's member states, have expressed their official support for a global agreement to stop plastic litter. 
December 2021
Over 700 civil society groups and NGOs from 113 countries signs a Civil Society Manifesto, urging UN Member States to negotiate a legally binding plastic treaty.
September 2021
The world's first ministerial conference on plastic pollution and marine litter is being held in Geneva, hosted by Ecuador, Germany, Ghana and Viet Nam. During the conference, 15 additional countries declare their support for a global plastic agreement.
June 2021
The UN Ocean Day Declaration on Plastic Pollution is launched in New York, after an initiative from the Alliance of Small Island States. 74 countries are asking for negotiations on a new legally binding global plastics agreement to start as soon as possible.
October 2020

EU member states commit at ministerial level to work for a new global agreement against plastic litter. 

October 2020
A group of 29 global companies launches a business manifesto calling for a new treaty on plastic pollution. This comes after the Boston Consulting Group, Ellen MacArthur Foundation and WWF launches a report on the business case for a new treaty on plastic pollution highlighting the potential gains of harmonized global rules on plastic pollution.
July 2020
55 countries set up a group at the UN headquarters in New York that will work to put a new global agreement in place. Norway, Maldives and Antigua & Barbuda takes on the responsibility of leading the group.
November 2019
African Ministers of Environment commit to work for a global agreement on plastic pollution in a joint policy message.
August 2019
The leaders of the Pacific countries commit to work for a global agreement to stop plastic in the ocean.
July 2019
15 Caribbean countries adopt a declaration on plastic litter, calling for a global agreement against plastic in the ocean.
April 2019
The Nordic countries (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland) adopt a Nordic plastic declaration, in which they advocate a new global agreement against plastic in the ocean.
March 2019
At the UN Environment Assembly's meeting in Nairobi, a majority of states agreed to further work to establish a global agreement against plastic in the ocean.
December 2017
The UN Environment Assembly establishes an expert group to explore potential global actions to support the long-term elimination of marine litter and plastic pollution. WWF, together with other environmental groups, puts forward for the first time the idea of a global and binding agreement against plastic pollution. The expert group meets twice in 2018 in Nairobi and Geneva, resulting in a majority of government experts recommending exploring the idea of a global binding agreement further.