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Day 5 INC-2: Negotiations for the UN Treaty to End Plastic Pollution

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.

June 2, 2023 – A sense of forward motion.

No matter how many treaties have been negotiated throughout history, each one is terra incognita. Planning and agenda setting is imperative but the people drawing up those plans are not seers. Expecting to follow a strict timeline or even using it as a yardstick is a recipe for disappointment. I’ve been particularly guilty of that this week.

That is not to say we’re back on track, whatever the track is. The INC Secretariat is tasked with producing a “zero draft” for INC-3 in mid-November, and must have the text ready 90 days in advance so parties have a chance for study and internal discussions. By my calculus, they have 44 days. That seems like a herculean task to me, given the many hundreds of interventions, all of which must be represented in some way. It can’t help to know that no matter how well the Secretariat captures the essence of this week’s conversation, many or perhaps all parties will be dissatisfied with the result.

It certainly would have helped to avoid two full days arguing over one rule of procedure, an argument that ultimately was not resolved anyway and will come up again. More time spent explaining and exploring policy positions would have allowed the Secretariat to produce a more complete zero draft and accelerate talks at INC-3.

On ASH and the Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance’s goal of eliminating cigarette filters, the week saw much success. We spoke with dozens of governments and found that there is widespread support.

Members of the Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance, STPA

There is also a lot of misunderstanding to overcome – many people, not just people who smoke – assume filters make cigarettes safer rather than more dangerous. It’s much too early in the process to predict the outcome of our efforts, but we’ve certainly made a good start.

Negotiating a treaty of this magnitude and complexity in five negotiating sessions over two years is ambitious to say the least, but it matches the magnitude of the problem we face. ASH and STPA are taking part in this treaty process for a very particular purpose, the tip of the iceberg of the global plastic pollution problem. But every one of us lives on this planet and has a stake in the overall outcome, and we hope our alliance and collaboration with the environmental community, national governments and friends from the World Health Organization increases the chances of success in all of our collective goals.

INC-3 begins November 13, 2023. We’ll take a weekend and start preparing on Monday.


Keep reading about ASH and the Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance’s work on plastic pollution <Return to Day 4 Blog