Plastic pollution is outperforming existing efforts to combat it, and it knows no boundaries. Arab countries and organizations alone will not be able to solve the problem. It’s a worldwide problem that necessitates a well-coordinated, globally synchronized response.
Many organizations and governments have made significant voluntary contributions, setting the groundwork for long-term collaboration.
We’ve already seen over 1,000 organizations take major efforts toward a circular economy for plastic as a result of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and UNEP’s Global Commitment, as well as the Foundation’s Plastics Pact Network.
With precise 2025 targets and year-on-year reporting, businesses and governments have committed to changing how we make, consume, and reuse plastic.
However, voluntary agreements alone will not be sufficient to address the situation on the scale that is required.
In order to provide the correct conditions and incentivize growth, policymakers must play a vital role. A global treaty on a circular economy for plastics is the next crucial step in scaling up the existing successful voluntary agreements.
To magnify present initiatives and level the playing field, we need a coordinated, urgent response that builds on this momentum.
A UN convention on plastic pollution is needed to complement existing efforts by taking a more organized and ambitious approach.
This is a historic occasion
We commend the decision made at UNEA 5.2 in March 2022, in which UN member states agreed to establish an International Negotiating Committee (INC) to draft a legally binding UN Treaty against plastic pollution.
The INC plans to start working on the agreement in the second half of 2022, with the goal of finishing it by the end of 2024.
The circular economy, whole life cycle, and sustainable production and consumption are all mentioned explicitly.
It highlights the importance of encouraging the circular design of products and materials so that they can be reused, remanufactured, or recycled and hence remain in the economy for as long as feasible, together with the resources they are made of, while also reducing waste output.
Encourages all stakeholders, including the private sector, to take action, and calls on all UN member states to continue and expand their efforts, while also acknowledging the significant contribution made by workers in many countries to collecting, sorting, and recycling plastics in informal and cooperative settings.
Encourages global, regional, national, and local cooperation, recognizing the need to improve global coordination and governance in order to take urgent action.
What comes next?
The UNEA 5.2 resolution is a watershed event in history, but it is only the beginning. There are several critical issues that the negotiating process must address in order to take advantage of this historic decision to establish a treaty that will have a genuine and ambitious influence on the transition to a circular economy for plastics.
This new pact should have the following provisions:
Include legally obligatory features to avoid a patchwork of disconnected solutions, level the playing field, and create the necessary enabling conditions for circular economy solutions to scale up globally.
Address the entire plastics life cycle, including product design, with the goal of keeping plastics in the economy and out of the environment, reducing virgin plastic production and usage, and decoupling plastic manufacturing from finite resource consumption.
Provide a global common vision and harmonised standards to improve global coordination and unify stakeholders around a shared understanding and approach to addressing plastic pollution.
Recognize that workers in informal and cooperative contexts make a considerable contribution to collecting, sorting, and recycling plastics in many countries, and that they must be included among key stakeholders in the UN convention on plastic pollution negotiations.