28 November 2022, Puna del-Este, Uruguay - The Pacific Islands contribute as little as 1.3% of the world’s plastic pollution, nor do we produce plastic polymers however our Pacific Islands region is grossly and disproportionately affected by its impacts.
Fourteen Pacific Islands are making sure our voices are heard in the international arena to protect our region as a new legally binding instrument on plastic pollution is being developed.
The First International Negotiating Committee on Plastic is now navigating the way forward for the new global treaty to be completed by the end of 2024.
Plastic accounts for at least 85 per cent of the total marine waste with the equivalent of one rubbish truck of plastic waste being dumped into our ocean each minute. Approximately 7 of the 9.2 billion tonnes of plastic that was produced from 1950 to 2017, became plastic waste ending up in landfills or dumped.
The plastic pollution crisis has propelled the world to take action in forming a new instrument that commits over 190 countries to respond with action. The call for global solidarity was reiterated today by the Pacific Small Islands Developing States.
“To address an issue of such magnitude, we need an ambitious instrument that covers the full lifecycle of plastics and implements the aspiration of ‘sustainable’ production and consumption of plastics which we all espouse,” stated His Excellency Fatumanava-o-Upolu III Dr. Pa’olelei Luteru to the conference behalf of the Pacific Small Islands Developing States, in support of the statements made by the Alliance of Small Islands States and the Asia Pacific Group.
“The future instrument must provide for mandatory obligations for all, be inclusive, equitable and provide for adequate means to implement the ambitious provisions we will all agree on, in particular for small island developing states. Multi-Stakeholder Approaches.”
“We need global solidarity to address plastic pollution and the effective engagement of all stakeholders, from producers to vulnerable communities. This must be the strategic guiding principle for creating a holistic and effective solution to the plastic pollution crisis.”
For Pacific Islands people, our cultures and ways of life have made protecting and preserving our natural environment of paramount value. Having learnt from generations past that in order to continue enjoying the benefits of our natural world, we must care for, and protect it so it provides for us and our future generations.
As custodians of the world’s largest ocean, the Exclusive Economic Zones of our Pacific Islands comprise over 10% of the world’s ocean. It provides vital ecosystem services valued in many billions of dollars underpinning economic sustainability in the region.
Already struggling with the impacts of climate change, the greatest threat to our Pacific Islands survival and livelihoods, plastic pollution is another menace that threatens our future.
“Education is a key component of any strategy to end plastic pollution. We should promote alternatives to plastics such as using traditional and local products thereby helping to turn off the tap. We support the use of the best available science and scientific information complemented by traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples and local communities with their free, prior, and informed consent as an integral part of ending the plastic pollution crisis,” presented H.E Ambassador Fatumanava.
“In the Pacific, we are truly at the forefront of the triple emergency threat presented by the convergence of climate change, loss of biodiversity and plastic pollution and we call on all members to commit to an agreement on an ambitious, legally binding global agreement covering the whole life cycle of plastics.”
The first Intergovernmental negotiating committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment is taking place in Punta del Este, Uruguay from 28 November–2 December 2022.
The Pacific Islands are represented by Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, 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) with financial assistance from the Government of Australia. SPREP is working with partners the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, University of Newcastle, the Environmental Investigation Agency, Centre for International Environmental Law, University of Wollongong, WWF and Massey University.