The UN environment chief says that the world has now a rare opportunity to resolve the problem of plastic litter. The issue will be negotiated in Nairobi, which is the first international gathering since the 2015 Paris climate accords.
The United Nations Environment Programme’s chief Inger Andersen insists that the world is able to clean up the planet from plastic waste. The only condition is uniting behind an ambitious treaty to tackle plastic trash for the generations to come. A global plastics treaty could become the instrument for achieving that ambitious goal, she said.
“This is a big moment. This is one for the history books,” theUNEP executive director said.
Historically, past global protocols had phased-out mercury and ozone-depleting substances once common in household goods, demonstrating it was possible to achieve consensus across borders and spur economy-wide change. However, some of those conventions took a decade to enshrine, by which stage tens of millions of tonnes of plastic trash could have entered the world ocean.
Nairobi: UNEP to discuss a global plastics treaty
The framework for a legally binding plastics agreement is still being hammered out ahead of a UN environment summit starting on Monday in Nairobi. Delegates meeting in Nairobi is expected to establish a negotiating committee to finalise the terms, a process that normally takes at least two years.
“We must understand that plastic is part of our lives -– we use it in construction, in medicine, in places where we need it. But we also use it in places where we do not,” Andersen said.
Prior to starting the Nairobi meeting, there are competing proposals. All of them will be considered but more than 50 nations have backed calls for a treaty that includes tough new controls on plastics, which are largely derived from oil and gas. Already the amount of plastic entering the world’s waterways is expected to triple by 2040 unless drastic action is taken.