31 May 2023, Paris France –Australia has reiterated its commitment to negotiating an ambitious and legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution by 2040.
The commitment during the opening plenary of INC-2 at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris France on Wednesday, where the Director International Plastics Policy Section of the Australian Government, Mr Cameron Colebatch, also reassured its Pacific neighbours of their continued support in the process.
“We are mindful of the high stakes of this work, and the hopes of people all around the world for a solution to plastic pollution, particularly Pacific Island Countries and small island developing states who are disproportionately impacted by its effects,” he said.
“We all look to this process to progress a tangible and meaningful pathway forward. This will require not only strong national-led action, but also globally agreed standards and obligations to facilitate and give certainty to the transformation necessary across all economies.”
At the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal last year, Australia’s Minister for the Environment and Water, Honorable Tanya Plibersek, said she would, “like to see a plastic-free Pacific” in her lifetime.
Australia has been supporting the Pacific delegates to attend the INC meetings, including providing funding support for the regional Pacific preparatory meetings before each of the five planned INCs.
The Government of Australia is also partnering with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) to reduce marine plastic litter through the AUD 16 million Pacific Ocean Litter Project (POLP), which aims to help Pacific island countries reduce the volume of single-use plastics ending up as marine litter in coastal environments.
The POLP aims to achieve, within the Pacific, the adoption of legislated or voluntary single-use plastic bans, levies and other instruments; increased consumer awareness, and to provide support and motivation to reduce the use of single-use plastic by targeting sectors, companies and businesses adopt single-use plastic reduction measures.
The POLP will also identify alternative, environmentally sustainable products and practices to support a reduction in single-use plastics use; and strengthen SPREP’s leadership and coordination of marine plastic litter initiatives in the Pacific.
Australia concluded its statement urging the international community to work together to deliver a strong and ambitious instrument.
“Only an ambitious approach will meet the expectations of communities around the globe.”
The second Intergovernmental negotiating committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment is taking place in Paris France from 29 May to 2 June 2023.
The Pacific Islands are represented by the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, 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 the POLP project, visit www.sprep.org/polp
For more information on INC-2, visit: https://www.unep.org/events/conference/second-session-intergovernmental-negotiating-committee-develop-international
Photo credit: IISD/ENB- Kiara Worth