15 November 2023, Nairobi Kenya - Delegates and negotiators attending the third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (INC-3), must ensure human rights, human health, and environmental impacts are considered at every stage of the plastic life cycle.
The point was raised by Tuvalu’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dr. Taniela K. Siose, during the main plenary of INC-3 currently underway in Nairobi Kenya. Tuvalu, a tiny atoll nation with a population of 11,000 people and limited landmass, is facing the risk of total destruction due to the impacts of global warming and climate change.
Dr. Siose leads a delegation from Tuvalu calling for an end to plastic pollution as global negotiations to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, continues.
“Mr Chair, we reiterate what others have said, that plastic pollution disproportionately impacts SIDS, like Tuvalu. Our land area of just 26km², presents unique challenges, compounded by loss of biodiversity, limited infrastructure, and heavy reliance on imported goods, adding pressure to our limited land area and constrained disposal sites,” said Dr. Siose. “Mr Chair, we need to ensure that human rights, human health, and environmental impacts are considered at every stage of the plastic life cycle.”
The third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-3) taking place in Nairobi this week is the latest critical step of a journey that started Punta del Este, Uruguay (INC-1) and Paris (INC-2) where the mandate was delivered for the INC Chair to prepare a zero draft of the agreement. On Tuesday, delegates reconvened in plenary to continue discussions and agreed to establish three contact groups to address different sections of the Zero Draft and elements of the Synthesis Report.
The discussions continued late into Tuesday night.
Back on the floor, Dr. Siose highlighted that Tuvalu's limited landmass and fragile ecosystems are already under extreme pressure to provide needed services for our population.
This, he said, is why Tuvalu relies on the instrument being negotiated at the INC process to deliver meaningful results, including adequate means of implementation that take into account our special circumstances as SIDS.
“An instrument that only addresses part of the plastic lifecycle without reference to reducing production and the adverse impacts of extraction and production would be considered a failure as it ignores the harm to people, the environment, and the climate system,” Dr. Siose said.
“We have shown our leadership to prevent environmental harm by pursuing innovative solutions to address harm to the land and marine environment, including through recent advisory proceedings at the International Tribunal on the Law Of the Sea. We feel this instrument is an essential tool in a comprehensive approach to generating effective change for present and future generations.”
Tuvalu and all Pacific countries are actively engaging in the contact group sessions.
Contact Group 1 is reviewing parts I and II of the Zero Draft; Contact Group 2 is addressing parts III and IV of the Zero Draft; and Contact Group 3 is considering the Synthesis Report on elements not discussed at INC-2 (UNEP/PP/INC.3/INF/1), taking into account the preparatory meeting, as well as inputs from members for placeholders in the Zero Draft. This group would also consider timelines for intersessional work.
“Tuvalu looks forward to actively participating in refining the zero draft, aiming to comprehensively address plastic pollution from its inception through its full life cycle, in accordance with the Principles outlined in the Rio Declaration,” said Dr. Siose.
“We steadfastly believe that the development of a strong instrument to combat plastic pollution will have far-reaching positive impacts ensuring the protection of both human health and the environment.”
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: https://www.unep.org/inc-plastic-pollution/session-3
Photo credit: INC-3 Photo