18 November 2023, Nairobi Kenya - Australia continues to champion the One Pacific Voice calling for an urgent and ambitious Global Plastic Treaty that addresses the full life cycle of plastics, as the third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-3) to develop an international legally binding instrument (ILBI) on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, continues in Nairobi, Kenya.
Australia has also called on the parties to the INC to recognise Indigenous peoples’ knowledge, science and practices in the zero-draft of the instrument placed under the microscope this week.
In Nairobi, the Head of Circular Economy Division, Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, Ms Kate Lynch, and her delegation have been actively involved in the plenary sessions as well as the Contact Groups where negotiators have been working tirelessly to recommend and revise sections of the Zero Draft text and the Synthesis Report of the ILBI.
“Australia supports the inclusion of a provision to identify and remediate existing plastic pollution, recognising its disproportionate impacts on small island developing states, including Pacific Island countries,” reads one of Australia’s interventions on Existing plastic pollution and monitoring. “Australia notes that there is an existing gap in the zero-draft text in relation to the measurement, monitoring and reporting of plastic leakage so that we can assess global progress towards the instrument’s objective and better target our activities. In addition, data collected through remediation activities will help ensure we can adequately measure our progress in reducing plastic pollution.”
The interventions from Australia highlighting the Pacific’s plight at INC-3 is one of the ways it is supporting Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS). Since the start of the INC process, the Government of Australia has been supporting Pacific delegates to attend the meetings, including providing funding support for the regional Pacific preparatory meetings before each of the five planned INCs.
INC-3 is the latest critical step of a journey that started in Punta del Este, Uruguay (INC-1) and Paris (INC-2) where the mandate was delivered for the INC Chair to prepare a zero draft of the agreement.
Australia, as a part of the Pacific family, has continued to reassure the Pacific of its support and commitment to negotiating an ambitious and legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution.
At the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, Australia’s Minister for the Environment and Water, the Honourable Tanya Plibersek said she would “like to see a plastic-free Pacific” in her lifetime. That set the tone for the work continuing in the INC process.
On Primary Plastic Production, Australia supports binding measures to restrain primary plastic production to sustainable levels. Abandoned, Lost, Discarded Fishing Gear (ALDFG), also known as Ghost Gear, is a major concern for Pacific countries, something not lost on the Australian delegation in Nairobi.
“Australia supports the instrument giving particular priority to fishing gear, due to the significance of its contribution to plastic pollution in the marine environment,” reads one of their interventions on the topic. “We welcome its inclusion in the zero draft. We support the need to ensure the instrument addresses plastic pollution from fishing gear across its life cycle and promotes a circular economy.”
The Australian delegation has also continued to advocate for the recognition of Indigenous peoples in the treaty negotiations.
“Australia emphasises the need for greater recognition in the zero-draft of the international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution of Indigenous peoples’ knowledge, science and practices . In particular, we emphasise the need to cooperate and engage with Indigenous Peoples in assessing, prioritising, monitoring and remediating plastic pollution, including drawing on Indigenous knowledges, sciences and practices on the basis of prior informed consent.”
INC-3 ends on Sunday.
The third Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (INC-3) is taking place in Nairobi Kenya from 13 - 19 November 2023.
The Pacific Islands are represented by the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu through the support of the Government of Australia and the United Nations.
They are supported by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), working with partners the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, Environmental Investigation Agency, Centre for International Environmental Law, University of Wollongong, WWF and Massey University.
For more information on INC-3, visit: https://www.unep.org/inc-plastic-pollution/session-3
Photo Credit: Photo by IISD/ENB | Anastasia Rodopoulou.