Waste Management and Pollution Control

30 May 2023, Paris France - Of just over 50 Pacific Islands delegates attending the global negotiations for a legally binding agreement on plastic pollution, half are women negotiators with one Pacific Island delegation consisting solely of women.

From 29 May – 2 June 2023, the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (INC-2) is taking place in Paris, France.

More than 280 million tonnes of short-lived plastic products become waste, each year.  According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), overall, 46 per cent of plastic waste is landfilled, while 22 per cent is mismanaged and becomes waste.

One million plastic bottles are purchased every minute across the planet, while up to five trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year. In total, half of all plastic produced is designed for single-use purposes – used just once and then thrown away.

This week, more than 193 Governments are negotiating to develop a plastics treaty that will tackle this issue, including our Pacific Islands Governments for which the voices of Pacific Women will be heard.

“From the start, we are pushing for a legally binding global agreement to address the plastic pollution crisis.  We want to make sure the targets are set right and countries take responsibility for addressing this issue globally,” said Ms Sandeep Singh, Head of the Fiji delegation to the INC-2.  Fiji’s entire delegation is made up of women.

“Plastic pollution is not a crisis that only a country can address, it is global.  We need everyone on board here in Paris to move our negotiations forward so we can have an outcome that will benefit everyone.”

When it comes to other multi-lateral environment agreements (MEA), work is actively being undertaken to ensure equal participation in the negotiation processes.  The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change whereby the enhanced Lima Work Programme on Gender and Gender Action Plan was adopted in December 2019.  This recognises the full, meaningful and equal participation and leadership of women in all aspects of the UNFCCC process and in national and local-level climate policy and action is vital for achieving long-term climate goals.

Here at INC-2, Pacific Islands women demonstrate this, with many of the women delegates also involved in other MEA processes.

“When we take up such challenges of being here negotiating, it gives us so much satisfaction as we are doing it for the planet - working hard to negotiate and come up with a treaty that will address one of the three planetary crises,” said Ms. Singh.

The Tuvalu delegation at the INC-2 have equal gender participation with the Head of Delegation being a woman delegate that has also represented Tuvalu in other MEA negotiation meetings.  Ms Moe Saitala Paulo has found Pasifika ties and learning from others has helped enhance her role in the negotiations.

“I would encourage women to be in these kinds of platforms. The United Nations complexity and complicated procedures are what makes it challenging and interesting,” said Ms Saitala Paulo.

“I remembered the first time I attended a UN meeting it was a climate change pre-COP meeting in Bonn Germany this was in 2012, I was young, inexperienced, vulnerable, and shy to ask questions. Looking back now, I'm glad my shyness did not stop me from being part of these negotiation processes. I'm not saying that I now know it all, but I can say that I’m more confident.”

Cook Islands

Several of the Pacific Islands delegations have more women than men, these include Palau and Vanuatu for whom the Heads of Delegation are women.  The Cook Islands delegation is mostly women.

“I love that every country has a voice through the person sitting behind their flag.  I have personally enjoyed learning by listening to the ways negotiators present and articulate their country’s positions in an effort to influence the way the rest of the room thinks,” said Ms Teuru Passfield of the Cook Islands delegation.

“I feel that the lead negotiators who are women are particularly good at doing this in a measured and thoughtful way. It's very inspiring.”

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, visit:

INC2, Pacific Women, Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Fiji