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INC-4 Day 0: UN Plastic Pollution Treaty Negotiations

ASH joins the Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance in attending the fourth Intergovernmental Negotiating Conference (INC-4) of the United Nations Treaty to End Plastic Pollution in Ottawa, Canada from April 23 – 29, 2024. ASH’s Chief Operating Officer Liz Furgurson and Policy Director Chris Bostic will share updates and progress here for our community to stay engaged and informed.

April 22, 2024 – The fourth round of negotiations for the UN Treaty to End Plastic Pollution formally begins tomorrow, April 23rd, here in Ottawa. There has already been enough preliminary activity and speeches to warrant an early update. But it’s not great.

As you may recall, ASH and our partners in the Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance (STPA) are working to achieve a ban on tobacco product plastic waste in the treaty, including cigarette filters. We have been able to position this goal in the broader initiatives to ban single-use plastics, supported by most civil society organizations.

First, the positives. Our environmental and health friends are here, organized and determined. A giant art installation made it impossible for government delegates to ignore why we are here (we were lucky enough to meet the artist and was blown away by his work and dedication). The World Health Organization (WHO) is here, and for the first time they are accompanied by the Secretariat of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, after receiving the mandate from the Conference of the Parties in February. The WHO has called on governments to ban cigarette filters, and has not been silent during these negotiations.

Today, a Partnership meeting was held featuring a series of panels to examine the issues facing the negotiators. Panels included indigenous people impacted by plastic, government officials, scientists, corporate representatives, and others. We were disheartened by the overall tone of the conversations that involved government and corporate speakers. They would never say it out loud, but it seemed like we – meaning all of us who live on the planet – need to ask the corporate world for their permission to address plastic pollution. The obvious corollary to that conclusion is that we will never get that permission unless industry is assured of continued profits into the future.

A few of the speakers correctly identified the starting point that we ought to be embracing – basic human rights for all.

We don’t need industry permission for a healthy environment, free from trillions of cigarette butts and other harmful plastics. We need to demand that right, and governments have a duty, both ethical and legal, to provide it.


Keep reading about ASH’s work on plastics pollution Advance to Day 1 Blog>