A treaty for change - Uniting against plastic pollution

Posted on June, 05 2023

Society's excessive production and consumption of plastic have led to an accelerating pollution crisis, causing detrimental effects on our environment, wildlife, human health and economy, writes WWF Special Envoy Marco Lambertini.

Every year, between nine and 14 million tonnes of plastic waste finds its way to our ocean - the very ocean we all depend on for climate regulation, food and livelihoods. 

Once in nature, due to its durability, the plastic may last for generations – only to break up into smaller and even more unmanageable pieces. 

Without immediate action, plastic production is expected to more than double by 2040. A similar increase in plastic pollution will follow. 

These realities serve as a stark reminder that if we continue with business as usual, the situation will only worsen. 

We unite with a shared vision of “no plastic in nature” - for a world where the ocean teems with marine life, not discarded fishing nets, bottles and bags, and where no human ingests plastic or breathes toxic fumes from burning plastic. 


UN Global Plastic Pollution Treaty

Last week, world leaders gathered in Paris for the second negotiation meeting for the UN Global Plastic Pollution Treaty - a treaty that holds the key to transforming that vision into reality. 

Global problems call for global responses, and it is imperative that this negotiation process reflects the political dedication required to tackle this crisis at the scope, scale and pace that our planet and society need.

Over the past five years, the number of national and voluntary actions to tackle the problem have risen, yet plastic pollution has simultaneously continued to increase by 50% - underlining that common rules for all countries is the only way forward in combating plastic pollution. 

Therefore, we were encouraged by the tangible progress we witnessed in Paris, where the vast majority of governments actively called for the treaty to include a set of specific and comprehensive binding global rules across the plastic life cycle.

Numerous governments also expressed support for global bans on high-risk plastic products, such as single-use cutlery, cigarette filters and microplastics in many products from cosmetics to paints and tyres. 

These are some of the plastics that are more prone to end up in our environment and cause the most harm once there. 

Many such products are both harmful and unnecessary or can be replaced with more sustainable substitutes and therefore provide a good starting point for global bans. 

These motivating developments reinforce our collective determination to tackle plastic pollution today - and forge a sustainable future for generations to come.

Let us recognize the pivotal role we can play in bringing about change. Today marks the start of our journey towards the next negotiation meeting in Nairobi in November 2023. 
This meeting represents a crucial step in the process, as the treaty serves as a roadmap for the transformative actions the world depends on. 

Plastic pollution urgency

With the urgency surrounding the plastic pollution crisis, it is now imperative that we raise our voices and urge our governments to wholeheartedly support a treaty that matches the level of ambition required to address this pressing issue. 

Anything less than a comprehensive and impactful treaty would be deemed a failure.

Governments hold the power to shape the world we envision - a world free from the crippling grip of plastic pollution that harms the environment and in turn our society and wellbeing. 

Let us unite and call upon our governments to rise to the occasion and take decisive action for the benefit of our planet, its people and all future generations.

A world free of plastic pollution is possible. Together possible.


Discover more:

Putting an end to plastic pollution: WWF's call to urgently regulate high-risk plastic products
About the Plastic Pollution Treaty

Marco Lambertini, Special Envoy, WWF, in Paris, France