ASH’s Policy Director Chris Bostic is attending the second Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-2) of the United Nations treaty to end plastic pollution in Paris, France from May 29 – June 2, 2023. He will share updates and progress here for our community to stay engaged and informed.
May 29, 2023 – Today launched the second negotiating session of the UN treaty to end plastic pollution, held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
We have five days to debate one of the most important issues facing humanity – catastrophic levels of plastic pollution.
In one way, this was personally the most auspicious day of the week, because I could get into the building. It turns out UNESCO simply doesn’t have the space to host a negotiation, so the Secretariat informed us that starting Tuesday each observer delegation – such as the ASH delegation – will be limited to one representative in the building at a time. ASH put together a strong team of five seasoned negotiators, including the world’s premier expert on cigarette filters and environmental health. Now we must decide which four of us wait outside for each session. I suppose we could call it a “reserve.”
Without civil society’s robust participation, the plastics pollution treaty negotiations will not solve the plastics pollution problem.
In another way, today was (hopefully) the least auspicious day. Several countries, led by Saudi Arabia, repeatedly called useless points of order culminating in a secret ballot vote, which I’ve never seen in over 20 years of treaty negotiations. If you guessed it takes a long time to call 175 countries to physically walk up to the front of a giant room to put their vote in a box one at a time, you guessed right.
Also, picture showing the box to the plenary before starting, to prove that it was empty. Apparently ballot stuffing is a concern here. Such procedural maneuvers are transparent attempts to slow progress and avoid substantive discussions.
There are many countries that fully understand the threat we are facing and are sincere in their efforts to find a solution. But there are also national delegations here solely to carry water for the petrochemical, plastics and tobacco industries, who profit from the continuation of poisoning the planet. What they think will happen to their own children and grandchildren is beyond understanding.
Of course, we won’t be deterred and will continue to push for a better world, without cigarette filters and plastic pollution.