30 May 2023, Paris France – Two Pacific Island countries, the Cook Islands and Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), have joined Ministers from 56 countries to sign a Ministerial Statement calling for an end to global plastic pollution by 2040.
The statement released by the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) called for a range of mandatory provisions to be included in the global plastic pollution treaty, currently under negotiation at the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC2) in Paris, France.
These include reducing the production and consumption of primary plastic polymers to sustainable levels; eliminating and restricting unnecessary, avoidable or problematic plastics, chemicals and products; and eliminating the release of plastics into nature, amongst others.
“In the Cook Islands, we have a zero-waste target for 2050 and it was only natural we align ourselves with other ambitious countries around the world that share our vision,” said Mr Halatoa Fua, Director of the Cook Islands National Environment Service.
“Our position is to ban unnecessary, avoidable, or problematic plastics, as well as the plastic polymers, chemical constituents and plastic products that are of particular concern due to their adverse effects on the environment and human health.
Since 2012, the Cook Islands has had a Single Use Plastics regulation in place to guide their fight against plastic pollution, coupled with the promotion of the Reuse, Reduce and Recycle values. The HAC statement builds on Cook Islands’ accelerating efforts to combat plastic pollution in all phases of production, use and legacy.
“The Cook Islands aims to pass a new Solid and Hazardous Waste Bill this year which will include a new schedule of banned plastic items including plastic straws, polystyrene containers, single serve butter and spreads as well as products containing microbeads. This new bill will also introduce an advanced disposable recovery fee,” said Mr Fua.
A negotiator from FSM, Mr Dennis Clare said “plastic pollution harms our environment, our bodies and our climate system. Without ambitious measures we will not be able to address this crisis,’” he said.
“Pacific islands are very much disproportionately impacted by the global plastics pollution crisis. Preventing and remediating ocean plastics pollution is essential for protecting our people’s health and greatest resource, and for meeting our region’s 2050 Vision for the Blue Pacific Continent.”
The HAC was formed upon the adoption of resolution the UN Environment Assembly passed in February 2022 to develop a legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution including within our marine environment. The Cook Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia are two Pacific Islands Members of the HAC.
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 further information on HAC, please visit: https://hactoendplasticpollution.org/
For more information on INC, visit: https://www.unep.org/events/conference/second-session-intergovernmental-negotiating-committee-develop-international
EMPOWERING PACIFIC MEDIA BITES
The High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution is a group of like-minded countries has taken the initiative to form a coalition of ambitious countries following the adoption of the historic resolution: “End Plastic Pollution: Towards an International Legally Binding Instrument” by the UN Environment Assembly in March 2022. The High Ambition Coalition is Co-Chaired by Norway and Rwanda.
The coalition is committed to developing an ambitious international legally binding instrument based on a comprehensive and circular approach that ensures urgent action and effective interventions along the full lifecycle of plastics.
The Cook Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia are the first two Pacific Island countries that have joined the coalition. As of the time of writing, the coalition has 56 members with more countries expected to join during the INC-2 negotiations this week.