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170 nations take first step to end plastic pollution

By Vishwa.Mohan@timesgroup.com | Jun 04, 2023

New Delhi: As the world gears up to mark the 50th World Environment Day on Monday with a focus on solutions to plastic pollution, nearly 170 countries, including India, have agreed to prepare a draft text — called zero draft — of an international treaty by November to end plastic pollution through multiple measures in a time-bound manner.

The decision on preparing the ‘zero draft’ was taken at the UNEP’s second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC), which ended in Paris on Friday. It was decided that the ‘zero draft’ will be put forth by UNEP at the third session of the INC at Nairobi (Kenya) in November. It will become the basis for member-countries to enter into subsequent negotiations to finalise the global treaty, which will also cover the marine environment.

At the second INC session in Paris, India is learnt to have advocated for a “consensus-based approach” for taking decisions in the Committee even as some of the developed countries, including few EU nations, wanted it to be decided through majority vote as their representatives argued that the consensus-based approach will block progress and delay the final treaty. Developing countries’ representatives, on the other hand, argued that consensus-based approach will ensure inclusivity and this is how any global agreement is agreed upon at the UN forums.

Experts from the New Delhi-based think tank, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), who participated in the INC in Paris said India has also rejected phasing down polymer production, one of the suggestions presented in the options paper. In its intervention during the meeting, India pointed out that plastic as a material was not a problem — the problem was plastic litter.

“This indicates that India is focusing on downstream measures to tackle plastic pollution, though Indian legislation talks about mid-stream approaches like re-design and re-use,” said Siddharth G Singh, CSE’s programme manager who attended the Paris meet.

The INC was formed as per UNEP’s historic resolution of March, 2022 to forge an international “legally binding agreement” by 2024 to end plastic pollution. The final agreement, once approved, will be opened up for ratification by by 2025.

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