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.
November 14, 2023 – Per usual INC was off to a slow start, running behind on the agenda which was revised overnight to allow for added plenary time this morning to accommodate additional member state interventions and observer interventions. Despite the delays, we were very pleased to see Panama, Uruguay, and others calling for the treaty to address to right to health.
There were a handful of positive statements from several Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) and Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) continuing to call for a human rights-based approach to develop the treaty. Of significant note, the World Health Organization made a joint statement with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in support of the elimination of cigarette butts [filters] as well as single use vape products!
With a bit of discussion and constructive concerns aired, the Chair established Contact Groups so that the work could truly begin.
Contact Group 1 was convened at 19:00 and set to end (hopefully) by 22:00. Many of our interests at this INC are on the agenda here, i.e. problematic and avoidable plastics, including short lived and single use plastics. After spirited debate on objectives and plastic polymers, the session adjourned due to expired time. The action is sure to resume tomorrow.
Contact Group 2 began with Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the Group of Latin America and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC), and African (AFRO) member states calling for a multilateral fund for Low- or Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) to meet obligations under the treaty. Samoa – speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) – argued that access of Small Island Developing States should be prioritized with funds for remediation. Rwanda supported extended producer responsibility (EPR) and newly established polluter pays schemes – the EU also supported mobilizing resources based on the polluter pays principles. Tobacco wasn’t explicitly mentioned in these discussions, but it could possibly link to the polluter pays principle.
Contact Group 3 discussed a variety of topics including the preamble, principles, definitions and scope. There seems to be a general agreement that the preamble should be short and concise, and the scope should be based on UN Environment Assembly Resolution 5/14. There was interest from member states on negotiating the preamble and these other items further along in the negotiations as the treaty takes shape.
We’ve barely scratched the surface in these contact groups; the next two days of work will be critical to progress.
In summary, the major highlight for today was the WHO statement in support of the elimination of cigarette butts [filters] and single use vaping devices.