175 nations agree for a legally binding treaty by 2024 to end plastic pollution | India News

NEW DELHI: In what could be a significant move to deal with hazardous plastic waste, 175 countries, including India, on Wednesday endorsed a historic resolution at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi to forge an international “legally binding agreement” by 2024 to end plastic pollution. The resolution addresses the full lifecycle of plastic, including its production, design and disposal.

The resolution, based on three initial draft resolutions from various nations, including Japan, Peru and Rwanda, establishes an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC), which will begin its work this year, with the ambition of completing a draft global legally binding agreement by the end of 2024. The final text retained the term “voluntary” as an option upon insistence by India.
The move of having a global plastic treaty in 2024 will help in eliminating single-use plastic from across the globe in due course of time. Taking a proactive approach, India has already decided to ban single-use plastic from July 1 and notified rules to make producers and brand owners of plastic materials responsible for managing plastic waste in environment-friendly manner.
“Today marks a triumph by planet earth over single-use plastics. This is the most significant environmental multilateral deal since the Paris accord. It is an insurance policy for this generation and future ones, so they may live with plastic and not be doomed by it,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
India’s environment minister, Bhupender Yadav, is also in Nairobi to take part in the special session of the UNEA, which will be held to mark the UNEP’s 50 anniversary, where member states are expected to address how to build a resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world. “Under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, India has already taken resolute steps to address plastic pollution,” tweeted Yadav after adoption of the historic resolution.

The legally binding instrument would reflect diverse alternatives to address the full lifecycle of plastics, the design of reusable and recyclable products and materials, and the need for enhanced international collaboration to facilitate access to technology, capacity building and scientific and technical cooperation. The global plastic treaty, once approved in 2024, will join the league the Montreal Protocol and the Paris Climate Agreement as among the most significant international environmental laws in world history.
“Against the backdrop of geopolitical turmoil, the UNEA shows multilateral cooperation at its best… Plastic pollution has grown into an epidemic. With today’s resolution we are officially on track for a cure,” said Norway’s minister for climate and environment, Espen Barth Eide, who is the president of the Fifth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly.
Plastic production has increased from 2 million tonnes in 1950 to 348 million tonnes in 2017 with substantial amount of it remaining uncollected, causing soil, air and water pollution. According to an estimate, more than 800 marine and coastal species are affected by plastic pollution through ingestion, entanglement and other dangers, and some 11 million tonnes of plastic waste flow annually into oceans. This amount will triple by 2040 in business-as-usual scenario.
The UNEP will convene a forum by the end of this year to share knowledge and best practices in different parts of the world to manage plastic waste.
“In parallel negotiations over an international binding agreement, the UNEP will work with any willing government and business across the value chain to shift away from single-use plastics, as well as to mobilise private finance and remove barriers to investments in research and in a new circular economy,” said Andersen.

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