Fourth Session of Plastics Treaty INC-4 Commences in Canada

In Canada’s capital, Ottawa, the fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-4) kicked off with a significant goal in mind: to finalize the text of an international legally binding instrument(ILBI) on plastics pollution, including in marine environments, by the fifth session in November. This meeting follows three earlier rounds of negotiations in Punta del Este, Paris, and Nairobi.

In response to the alarming, and ever-growing, scourge, policymakers adopted resolution 5/14 to end plastic pollution at the resumed fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in 2022. The resolution established an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) to prepare an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment.

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, emphasized the urgency of the task. “We are seeing convergence on eliminating the uses that are problematic and avoidable. We will continue to need plastic for specific uses, such as renewable energy technologies. But there is growing agreement that short-lived and single-use can go,” she said.

she added that Plastic is a vital invention, crucial for lighter, fuel-efficient vehicles, construction, electrical appliances, windmills, and more. We must be intentional in its use. “We recognize the need to reassess plastic production and usage. Many regions have banned single-use plastics. Two years ago, the UN Environment Assembly agreed to negotiate a binding instrument on plastic pollution. Tomorrow marks the fourth negotiating session for this agreement,” said Inger Andersen.

She urged the INC-4 participants to show energy, commitment, collaboration, and ambition to set the stage for the finalization of the instrument at the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee that is scheduled to take place from 25 November to 1 December 2024 in Busan, Republic of Korea. Regional consultations will precede the session. INC-5 is intended to culminate the INC process, followed by a Diplomatic Conference where Heads of State will sign the agreement.

Luis Vayas Valdivieso, Chair of the INC, stressed the importance of multilateral cooperation and collective action in addressing plastic pollution. He called for negotiations grounded in scientific evidence and optimism about the possibility of achieving a new treaty on plastics pollution.

Luis Vayas noted the critical role of advancing negotiations to deliver effective and impactful solutions to address plastic pollution and highlighted the potential economic opportunities for tackling plastic pollution

Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UNEP, speaks with Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada source IISD

The start of INC-4 was marked by regional consultations, conversations with Observers, and events such as Partnerships Day and Ministerial Day hosted by Canada. Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change expressed Canada’s commitment to ending plastics pollution and emphasized the significance of reaching a global agreement by the end of 2024.

At the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in February 2024, Canada convened the other host countries of the INC process – France, Kenya, the Republic of Korea, and Uruguay – for a Ministerial meeting, under the umbrella of the Host Country Alliance, to galvanize momentum toward the plastics global instrument.

 Jyoti Mathur-Filipp, Executive Secretary of the INC, urged delegates to make the most of the seven-day session and strive for consensus to deliver a text that aligns with the desired final agreement.

The INC-4 meeting represents a crucial step towards a global agreement on plastic pollution, demonstrating the international community’s dedication to addressing this pressing environmental challenge.

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