The latest round of UN talks for a future plastics treaty have ended. Tearfund sent a delegation to the summit in Nairobi to advocate for a strong legally-binding treaty that would protect the rights of waste pickers.
INC-3 saw a new coalition of fossil-fuel and plastic-producing countries succeed in their attempts to significantly delay progress, backed by the presence of huge numbers of fossil fuel and petrochemical interest groups, who outnumbered more than 40 African delegations combined.
Despite the tactics of this new coalition, most of those in the room remain on the side of ambitious action. The treaty text continues to develop and still contains all the crucial elements required to end plastic pollution and protect the most vulnerable. But on the final evening of negotiations - and despite passionate interventions from African nations and others - the low-ambition group were able to scupper plans for further formal work on the text in the months before negotiators next meet in Ottawa, Canada, in April.
Hopefully this major setback will serve as a wake-up call to the High Ambition Coalition of countries, a group established to press for a bolder treaty. This treaty has the potential to be world-changing for those most impacted by plastic pollution - especially for waste pickers and for people living in poverty who are currently forced to dump or burn their plastic waste - but to achieve that change will require a new level of boldness and cooperation between governments that claim to be ambitious, to counter the powerful vested interests at work in these talks.
Rich Gower, Senior Economist at Tearfund
"Justice rarely comes easily. For decades, the fossil fuel industry has obstructed progress on the climate crisis, and we are falling into the same trap here: this treaty is about ending plastic pollution, not about protecting the profits of the petrochemicals industry. These talks can still deliver justice to those most affected by plastic pollution, but with only one year to go, ambitious countries need to seize the initiative and do everything they can to prepare the ground for significant progress in Ottawa in April."
Rev. Dennis Nthenge, Tearfund Campaigner and chaplain to the Archbishop of Kenya:
“Plastic use is an escalating crisis in Africa. As we embark on what should be the final year of negotiations, the urgency of a transformative treaty becomes evident for 2 billion individuals facing plastic waste without proper disposal. Meanwhile, agreement to reduce plastic production will be an uphill battle. I urge citizens around the world to join a global rallying in 2024 to demand decisive action against plastic pollution, tipping the scales towards a world-changing treaty.”