Ms Yvonne Tio
Waste Management and Pollution Control

15 November 2023, Nairobi Kenya - The leakage of plastics into the ecosystems, including in the marine environment, is a growing concern for Papua New Guinea (PNG). What’s even more alarming for the biggest Pacific island with an Exclusive Economic Zone of over 3 million square kilometers and a coastline of over 17 million kilometres, is that the bulk of the waste is plastics that come from somewhere else, washed onto the nation’s shores.
PNG is not alone. Pacific countries continue to be disproportionately impacted by the plastic pollution crisis even though they have contributed the least to it. 
This week, a delegation from Papua New Guinea has joined hundreds of negotiators at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, to find a solution. That solution lies in a treaty they hope will be “based on a comprehensive approach that addresses the full life cycle of plastic.” 
Ms Yvonne Tio, Executive Manager of PNG’s Conservation and Environment Protection Authority, said the treaty negotiations must be treated as a matter of urgency. She made the point during a national statement delivered at the main plenary of the ongoing negotiations. 
“Papua New Guinea is determined to ensure that we take effective leadership and ownership of our maritime zones to protect, conserve and sustainably uses our marine resources for our national development and people’s welfare. Our commitment in this regard remains firm and strong,” she said.
“Papua New Guinea aligns our position with the statements made by the Pacific Small Islands Developing States. We recognize the UNEA Resolution 5/14 provides the scope of the Instrument. We strongly support the call for environmental, socio-economic and human health considerations of SIDs taking into consideration the cultural aspects as well as the rights of indigenous communities to a healthy, productive and resilient ocean and seas.”
According to Ms Tio, a treaty must be all encompassing in its scope and caters for the needs of communities that are worst affected by the plastic crisis.
“PNG emphasizes the need to access scientific information and data, environmentally sound innovations and technology, technical assistance and sustainable financing to address this global problem. Hence the Instrument should align and complement the existing international Treaties and multilateral agreements,” she said.
PNG also called for greater collaboration and for parties to work in tandem to ensure a treaty is reached as soon as possible.
“The good progress made has been due to the commitment of all involved and call for greater international cooperation and partnership, resources for research and development of smart innovative solutions, educational awareness, capacity building and enhance resilience to combat plastic pollution including in the marine environment,” she said. 
“The draft instrument in its self is complex and the recent consultations have given us the opportunity to better understand the draft instrument and its provisions. 
“At this juncture, we recognize given the obligation of the instrument, developing countries will require technical, financial resources, capacity building programs including technology transfer to implement the instrument. The instrument also calls for greater cooperation, partnership and synergizing of resources for research and development in plastics.”
At the Third Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop a comprehensive legal binding instrument on plastics pollution, including in the marine environment (INC-3), delegates are hoping to take a step closer towards a plastics treaty this week. On Wednesday, the discussions in three contact groups to address different sections of the Zero Draft and elements of the Synthesis Report continued.
PNG reiterated that further work was required for each of the elements of the instrument and pointed to the need to focus on substantive matters.
The third Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment 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: