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INC-3 Day 1: UN Plastics Pollution Treaty Negotiations

ASH joins the Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance in attending the third Intergovernmental Negotiating Conference (INC-3) of the United Nations Treaty to End Plastic Pollution in Nairobi, Kenya from November 13 – 19, 2023. ASH’s Chief Operating Officer Liz Furgurson and Researcher Rob Ralston of the University of Edinburgh will share updates and progress here for our community to stay engaged and informed.

President William Ruto of the Republic of Kenya addressing INC-3
Kenyan President William Ruto addressing INC-3

November 13, 2023 – The third negotiating session of the UN Treaty to End Plastic Pollution, held at United Nations Environmental Programme headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya began today, commencing another 7 days of discussion on ways to combat the devasting impact of plastic pollution on our planet.

Though we are fortunate to have the beauty of the UN’s Nairobi compound for this round of negotiations, space for those in attendance remains limited and therefore problematic just as it was at INC-2 in Paris earlier this year. ASH is part of a small, but mighty team of 7 representing the Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance and participating at this session. We remain committed to a world without cigarette filters and other forms of tobacco product plastic waste.

The INC-3 session was opened with warm welcomes from UNEP and INC Secretariat leadership as well as the Chair, and we were pleasantly surprised by an equally warm welcome and inspiring words of encouragement from his Excellency President William Ruto of the Republic of Kenya.

The tone was remarkably different from the opening day of INC-2 – perhaps the spirit of Nairobi has taken hold? Many countries spoke from the floor calling for a human rights-based approach to the treaty itself and remaining committed to finding solutions to the problem of plastic that the world is drowning in as we speak. Then of course there were some objections.

A preparatory meeting held between the INC Secretariat and Member States ahead of the third negotiating session included discussion of the principles, institutional arrangements and the intersessional work that will frame the scope and governance of the instrument. There are encouraging signs of support for the polluter pays principle and planetary health equity.

Members of the Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance at INC-3
Members of the Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance at INC-3

From a tobacco control perspective, there is considerable scope for lesson-drawing from the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which could provide the basis for the governing body of the treaty.

The Chair delivered his zero draft of the treaty text just 90 days ago, and we’re set to discuss the provisions included, though there is much emphasis on those Parties that have yet to make an appearance and concerns among NGOs about a lack of transparency around the participants at INC-3.

Overall, from day 1, the tone is collaborative, cooperative and there is a collective desire to roll up our sleeves and get to work; is this indeed the spirit of Nairobi – or the calm before the storm?

ASH would also like to thank the government of Kenya for their hospitality. We’re inspired by their leadership in the environmental movement, from their national ban on plastic bags (an announcement was made as we landed to leave any single use plastic bags on the aircraft as they are illegal to bring into the country) to today, November 13th being a public holiday, a day for all Kenyans to plant trees. We should all be like Kenya.

Keep reading about ASH’s work on plastics pollution Advance to Day 2 Blog>