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The United Nations negotiations on a treaty regarding plastic have concluded with a directive to produce an initial draft despite objections.

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The following news item is sourced from Reuters and pertains to Paris. Following a challenging beginning to a week-long negotiation process, approximately 170 nations have reached an agreement to produce an initial version of a potential inaugural worldwide agreement aimed at reducing plastic pollution. This draft is expected to be completed by November of this year to finalize the treaty by the conclusion of next year.

Representatives from various countries, non-governmental organizations, and industry sectors convened in Paris this week for the second phase of United Nations negotiations to establish a legally binding agreement to curb the proliferation of plastic waste. A 2022 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development indicates that plastic waste is expected to nearly triple by 2060, with approximately 50% ending up in landfills and less than 20% being recycled.

During the initial half of the five-day negotiations, the delegations discussed procedural issues. Subsequently, the delegations were divided into two groups to deliberate on the various control measures that can be implemented to curb plastic pollution. The groups also debated whether countries should formulate national plans or establish global targets to address the issue.

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At the end of the session on Friday, the participating countries reached a consensus to develop a “zero draft” text for a plastics treaty that would have legally binding and to address crucial issues such as the treaty’s scope and principles during the negotiation sessions.

The initial version of the text, known as the “zero drafts,” will encompass various perspectives from different nations. This draft will be available for discussion during the upcoming round of talks scheduled to take place in Nairobi, Kenya, in November.

At the onset of this session, I implored you to ensure that your time in Paris is productive and meaningful. During the closing plenary, Jyoti Mathur-Filipp, the executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) on Plastic Pollution, acknowledged that the collective mandate for a zero draft and intercessional work had been provided.

The commencement of the negotiations was delayed for over two days due to extensive discussions regarding the procedural regulations governing the talks.

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Adopting treaty decisions through a majority vote instead of a consensus was met with objections from Saudi Arabia, Russia, and China. The attainment of a consensus would confer upon one or a few nations the power to impede the adoption.

According to Marian Ledesma, a campaigner affiliated with Greenpeace Philippines, adopting crucial provisions may be impeded if the INC process allows for consensus-based adoption instead of majority voting. Reuters reported this.

According to the speaker, casting votes enables a maximum number of states to endorse the treaty, thereby facilitating progress.

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The matter remains unresolved and will be revisited during subsequent discussions.

During the negotiations on Wednesday night, the negotiators made progress in discussing the main points of the talks. They presented their stances on the issues of capping plastic production, reducing the production of “problematic” plastics, and deciding whether the treaty should establish national targets or permit countries to create their plans.

Time is of the essence and cannot be wasted. During the talks on Wednesday, the representative of Samoa spoke on behalf of small island nations and emphasized the urgency of the situation. The representative stated that poor waste management and overproduction of plastic negatively impact island states.

The “High Ambition Coalition,” an informal group of countries comprising EU nations, Japan, Chile, and island nations, seeks to establish worldwide objectives to curb plastic production and pollution. Additionally, the coalition proposes limitations on specific hazardous chemicals.

National plans have been preferred by countries such as the United States and Saudi Arabia over global targets in addressing the issue.

According to Tadesse Amera, the International Pollutants Elimination Network co-chair, the negotiations must lead to a robust agreement, given the increasing public apprehension regarding the plastic pollution crisis.

According to him, there is a rising awareness among delegates regarding the requirement of global regulations on chemicals in plastics and the imposition of restrictions on plastic production. Despite the high stakes, he remains optimistic.

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