More than 60 countries have expressed support for the global treaty to end plastic pollution proposed by Rwanda and Peru.
The number jumped from 25 states in September of last year.
The development comes ahead of the 5th United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) from February 28 to March 4 in Nairobi, Kenya, where nations around the world will begin formal negotiations on the treaty.
The treaty aims to reduce global plastic waste, which is fueling the climate crisis and environmental catastrophe.
Ahead of the conference, country representatives are already in Nairobi to review the draft treaty which will propose ways to reduce the manufacture and use of single-use plastics and foster a global circular economy for plastics.
Rwanda and Peru should lead negotiations on a draft resolution.
Among the countries that have so far approved the proposed treaty are the European Union, which comprises 27 member states.
In a joint statement, France and the United States of America also pledged to support the treaty.
“The United States and France are committed to protecting our environment for future generations. Recognizing the transboundary aspects of plastic pollution and the importance of reducing it at its source, the United States and France support the launch of negotiations at the upcoming 5th United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) on an agreement global to address the full lifecycle of plastics and promote a circular economy,” reads part of the statement.
The other countries that approved the draft resolutions from Rwanda and Peru are Senegal, Costa Rica, Norway, Switzerland, Guinea, the Philippines, Ecuador, Kenya, Chile, Colombia, Uganda, Madagascar, United Kingdom, Cabo Verde, Azerbaijan, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Panama, Timor-Leste, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Comoros, Eswatini, Pakistan, Benin, Gabon, Iceland, Georgia , Republic of Korea, Mauritius, North Macedonia, Djibouti and Iran.
Treaty adoption expected by 2024
Depending on the progress of the talks, a draft treaty could potentially be ready for adoption by 2024.
If successful, the resolution will convene an intergovernmental negotiating committee that will establish an open-ended mandate for the negotiations, promote a comprehensive approach to addressing the life cycle of plastics, identify key elements of the global response, and develop a new global legally binding instrument. binding, such as a treaty.
Under plans developed by Rwanda and Peru, and with the support of the European Union and other countries, nations would be required to develop national action plans to limit the production and use of plastic in their savings.
The resolution also encourages shared target setting, reporting and monitoring as well as scientific and technical support and financial and technical assistance.
“Global collaboration is needed to address this threat. Only united international action will enable and encourage local solutions. We need concrete and binding commitments to safeguard the future of the planet and end plastic pollution,” said Juliet Kabera, Director General of Rwanda’s Environment Management Authority.
Rwanda banned the manufacture, import, use and sale of plastic carrier bags in 2008 and then single-use plastic items in 2019.
This decisive action against plastic has also boosted economic growth by creating green jobs across the country, Kabera said.
“Many companies and cooperatives have started making eco bags made from locally available and environmentally friendly materials. This has provided jobs for many Rwandans, especially young people and women,” she added.
In an example of the opportunities this has brought, in the first month of Kenya’s plastic bag ban, Rwandan manufacturers exported 78 tonnes of biodegradable bags made from paper, fabric and sisal from a worth $250,000 according to Kabera.
“Proposals under deliberation by Member States envisage actions, from source to sea, which address all sources of pollution throughout the life cycle – from production to disposal and reduction in plastic leakage that currently exists in the global ecosystem,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director and United Nations Environment Programme.
“Member States will have to take into account in their negotiations the different types of plastics and the additives they contain, in particular to allow plastics to be recycled safely and to promote a circular plastics economy.”
The treaty could be the biggest development on the global environmental agenda since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015, experts say.
Meanwhile, Japan has tabled a rival draft resolution that would focus only on marine plastic litter, while India is pushing for a voluntary agreement instead of a legally binding treaty.
Fast facts on plastic pollution
Worldwide, two million plastic bags are used every minute in the world.
On average, a plastic bag is only used for 12 minutes, but it takes up to 1000 years to decompose.
In 1974, an average person consumed 2 kg of plastic per year.
Today, the average per capita consumption is 43 kg, an increase of more than 2,000%.
Over the next five years, the world’s major plastic manufacturers are expected to increase their production by a third, yet only 9% of the world’s plastics are recycled.