WWF commends UN Environment Assembly's watershed decision to start negotiations for a global plastics treaty

Posted on March, 02 2022

GLAND, SWITZERLAND, 2 March 2022 – UN Member states at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) have unanimously agreed to develop a legally binding treaty to end plastic pollution, making it one of the world’s most ambitious environmental actions since the 1989 Montreal Protocol which effectively phased out ozone-depleting substances.

The adopted UN resolution outlines the development of a robust treaty that allows for global rules and obligations across the full life cycle of plastic. This will hold nations, businesses, and society accountable in eliminating plastic pollution from our environments.

WWF welcomes this decision and urges the world’s governments to seize this powerful momentum for eliminating plastic pollution and act just as strongly and decisively in developing the full content of the treaty by 2024. WWF commits to support the work of UNEA’s Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee in finalising the important details of this historic treaty over the next two years.

“We stand at a crossroad in history when ambitious decisions taken today can prevent plastic pollution from contributing to our planet’s ecosystem collapse. By agreeing to develop a legally binding global treaty on plastic pollution, our world leaders are paving the way for a cleaner and safer future for people and the planet,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International.

“But our work is far from over – world leaders must now show even more resolve in developing and implementing a treaty which addresses our current plastic pollution crisis and enables an effective transition to a circular economy for plastic. This requires not just any treaty but one with clear and strong global standards and targets that will create a level-playing field that incentivises nations to abide by common rules and regulations while also penalising harmful products and practices.”

Pressure has been mounting on governments for a legally binding treaty to address the plastic pollution crisis. More than 2.2 million people around the world have signed a WWF petition calling for this, while over 120 global companies, and more than 1,000 civil society organisations have also backed calls for a treaty.

WWF calls on world leaders to build on this overwhelming global support and today’s watershed moment by establishing an ambitious global treaty on plastic pollution by 2024 that:

  • Is legally binding with common rules and regulations that can scale up circular economy solutions worldwide;
  • Incorporates global regulations across the full lifecycle of plastics, including global bans on harmful products and actions, product design standards and measures that reduce virgin plastic production and consumption;
  • Recognises the critical role of the informal waste sector in driving a circular economy and enables the participation of this sector in the negotiations. 

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Notes to the Editor

The UN Environment Assembly has decided that the world will get a new legally binding treaty on plastic pollution. The adopted resolution ‘End Plastic Pollution: Towards a legally binding instrument’, establishes an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee that will develop the specific content of the new treaty with the aim of completing its work by the end of 2024. The UN member states have decided that the following elements should be considered in developing the new treaty:

  • Global objectives to tackle plastic pollution in marine and other environments and its impacts
  • Global obligations and measures along the full lifecycle of plastics, including on product design, consumption and waste management
  • A mechanism for providing policy-relevant scientific information and assessment
  • A mechanism for providing financial support to the treaty implementation
  • National and international cooperative measures
  • National action plans and reporting towards the prevention, reduction and elimination of plastic pollution
  • Treaty implementation progress assessment

The resolution also recognises that plastic pollution constitutes a threat to all environments and poses risks to human health. It recognises the role of the private sector, and all stakeholders, in developing and implementing the treaty, and emphasizes that the problem should be solved through measures along the full life cycle.

For more information, please contact: news@wwfint.org

"Giant Plastic Tap", an art installation spewing plastic waste sourced from Kibera, the largest informal settlement in Africa, greeted 1500 delegates from 193 different countries coming together at UNEA 5.2.
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