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Giving the world what it wants: an end to plastic pollution

Friends,

We have heard from most observers that the right policy and legal environment will be critical. We are talking about global targets. Accelerated timelines. Binding rules and obligations. A start and strengthen approach. And there are emerging points of convergence that can create this environment.

We are seeing convergence on eliminating the plastics that are problematic and avoidable. We will continue to need plastic for specific uses – electrical, transport, construction – but there is growing agreement that much of short-lived, problematic and single use can probably go.

We are seeing convergence on redesigning systems, products and packaging. There are many initiatives and standards to build on and a growing number of proposals from Member States or consumer goods companies.

We are seeing convergence on Extended Producer Responsibility schemes. A growing number of countries are embracing such schemes, and rolling out legislation in the Global North, South, East and West, from which we can build principles and guidelines.

We are seeing convergence on innovative funding for implementation, both through the public and private sector.

We are seeing absolute convergence that this transition must be just. There is growing agreement that waste pickers must be part of the solution to deliver decent new jobs.

We are seeing convergence on the need to address legacy pollution: the where, the how and the who remains to be answered.

We are seeing convergence on a reporting framework to ensure real progress is made and trust built through transparency.

There are other parts of the deal where there are varying degrees of convergence. You know what those areas are but let me just highlight one, because it is clear that positions still vary when it comes to chemicals and products of concern. I recognize that there are different proposals on the table. In my view, a fine needle can be threaded that ensures we land a credible and implementable pathway on this critical matter. I believe that this will entail building bridges with the Science-Policy Panel on Chemicals, Waste and Pollution Prevention, which is under negotiation, and learning lessons from other multilateral environmental agreements.

All of this is within the power of you, the negotiators, to influence at INC-4 this week.

Allow me to also remind you that we need to think about the future beyond INC-5 and the completion of the negotiating process. As you will recall, the UNEA resolution that requested me to convene this INC also requested me to convene a diplomatic conference upon completion of negotiations for the purpose of adopting the instrument and opening it for signature. I would welcome inputs and guidance on the convening of the diplomatic conference.

Friends,

We can be proud of what we have achieved. But a job half-done is a job not done. Time is against us – both in terms of finalizing the instrument and how much more the planet can take. As we deliberate, plastic pollution continues to gush into ecosystems.

So, I ask for INC-4 to show energy, commitment, collaboration and ambition. To make progress. And to set the stage for INC-5 to finalize an instrument that will end plastic pollution, once and for all.