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 15, 2023 – Day 3 brought back-to-back to back Contact Group sessions. The atmosphere is intense with member states eager to maximize their time available in Nairobi for INC-3 negotiations. Today, we also learned that the day would be extended to accommodate another evening Contact Group 1 session.
Robust debate continued again this afternoon on chemicals and polymers of concern. There was vigorous support for prioritizing health in the treaty and even a specific reference to the WHO FCTC by Mexico.
Then the debate on problematic and avoidable plastics finally began; this is where the conversation on removing cigarette filters will happen. The dialogues on existing options within the current treaty text were productive though there were also some suggestions for consideration in the next draft. There seems to be strong support for intersessional work before INC-4 to further develop the various criteria for problematic and avoidable plastics. One member state called for the inclusion of cigarette filters in the problematic and avoidable plastics criteria, with another member state supporting the proposal. An additional observer also supported the elimination of cigarette filters and single-use vaping products.
Implementation, compliance, accountability, and engagement were also discussed today. Several countries called for the proposed action agenda to recognize indigenous knowledge and include youth, women, and community groups in the deliberations. Many states reiterated their support for the business sector’s involvement in the plastics treaty, with calls for a multi stakeholder platform to enhance collaboration and renewed emphasis on accessing private sector resources. There was, however, a call for a future stakeholder action agenda to recognize and manage conflicts of interest. Disappointingly, several states rejected proposals in the zero draft for mandatory disclosures from businesses, citing the commercial sensitivities of transparency on financial flows and corporate activities.
There was a general feeling that the preamble should be short and reflect content of the treaty once it is further developed, and the perspective remains that the preamble should be advanced later in the treaty process.
There is agreement that definitions should be informed by the work carried out by other Contact Groups. It’s a classic chicken or the egg debate.
Regarding institutional arrangements, member states voiced concerns over developing much of this section, though there was some promise of options being incorporated into the next draft of the treaty in advance of the INC-4. There was also harmony on the rule of consensus for decision making with an allowance for voting if necessary. There was general agreement that the Conference of Parties should be a governing body – with some support for specific subsidiary bodies as needed.
Tomorrow, the plenary is set to convene in the afternoon for a progress check on the Contact Groups. Stay tuned!