The United Nations Environment Assembly, meeting in Nairobi, agreed to launch negotiations on a legally binding global agreement to combat plastic pollution.
EU diplomacy has played a key role in securing the support of the global community to reduce and eventually eliminate plastic pollution in all environments.
“It is encouraging to see the global community come together at this time of crisis,” said Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans said. “Ever since the European plastics strategy was presented in 2018, the European Union has been a driving force to tackle plastic pollution. We are determined to keep pushing for ambitious global action, as the fight against the climate and biodiversity crises must involve all of us.”
“About 11 million tonnes of plastic currently enter the ocean every year and this amount will triple in the next 20 years without an effective international response,” added Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius. “Thus I am glad that with EU input the global community today stepped up to fight plastics pollution. We will engage actively in the discussions of a legally binding agreement that looks at all stages of the plastics life cycle from product design to waste.”
The future agreement will aim to close the gaps that existing initiatives and agreements do not address, especially at the design and production phases of the plastics life cycle. It should bring together all stakeholders to achieve the overall goal to eliminate the leakage of plastic into the environment.
“Today marks a triumph by planet earth over single-use plastics,” commented Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “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.”
According to UNEP, plastic production soared from 2 million tonnes in 1950 to 348 million tonnes in 2017, becoming a global industry valued at 522.6 billion US dollars and it is expected to double in capacity by 2040.