Keeping Your Business in Mind

Road to Busan clear as negotiations on a global plastics treaty close in Ottawa

The fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (INC-4), concluded today in Ottawa with an advanced draft text of the instrument and agreement on intersessional work ahead of the fifth session (INC-5) in November.

More than 2,500 delegates participated in INC-4, representing 170 Members and over 480 Observer organizations including – non-governmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations, and UN entities. INC-4 marked the Committee’s largest and most inclusive gathering to date, with Observer participation increasing by almost fifty per cent.

Over the course of INC-4, delegates worked on negotiating the Revised Draft Text of the international legally binding instrument. Delegates discussed, among other things: emissions and releases; production; product design; waste management; problematic and avoidable plastics; financing, and a just transition.

INC Members also agreed on intersessional work expert meetings that take place between the official INC sessions – that is expected to catalyze convergence on key issues.

In addition, Members decided to create an Open-ended Legal Drafting Group to form at INC-5, serving in an advisory capacity by reviewing elements of the draft revised text to ensure legal soundness.

“We came to Ottawa to advance the text and with the hope that Members would agree on the intersessional work required to make even greater progress ahead of INC-5. We leave Ottawa having achieved both goals and a clear path to landing an ambitious deal in Busan ahead of us,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). “The work, however, is far from over.

The plastic pollution crisis continues to engulf the world and we have just a few months left before the end of year deadline agreed upon in 2022. I urge members to show continued commitment and flexibility to achieve maximum ambition.”

The fourth session follows INC-1 in Punta del Este in November 2022, INC-2 in Paris in May/June 2023, and INC-3 in Nairobi in November 2023. INC-5 – set to be the end of the INC process – is scheduled for November 2024 in Busan, the Republic of Korea.

“Canada is committed to reaching a final agreement at INC-5 in the Republic of Korea before year end. We are no longer talking about “if” we can get there, but “how.” Together we can land one of the most significant environmental decisions since the Paris Agreement and the Kunming Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework,” said said Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “We are doing everything we can to raise the international profile of the plastic pollution crisis so that the agreement gets the global attention it deserves to cross the finish line.”

The Chair of the INC, Ambassador Luis Vayas said: “During these seven days of intense deliberations, you – the delegates – have managed to build on and advance the revised draft text of the instrument, providing streamlined text and entering textual negotiations on several elements,” Ambassador Vayas said. “At the same time, we also leave with a much clearer picture of the work that remains to be done, if we are to deliver on the promise that Members have made through UNEA Resolution 5/14.”

“We are all united by our strong shared commitment to deliver an international legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution. It is this spirit of multilateralism which has guided our discussions here in Ottawa,” he added. “We have found some common ground, and we are walking this path together until the end. I firmly believe that we can carry this same spirit forth to Busan to deliver on our mandate.”

Ambassador Vayas thanked the Government of Canada for hosting the session, as well as the Committee Members, Observers, co-facilitators, support staff, and the INC Secretariat, and his team.

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