African Center for Advocacy urges UN member states to negotiate a global legally binding agreement to address the plastics crisis.

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The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) will take place – in person and online – at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya from February 28 to March 2. Top of the agenda will be the creation of a global treaty on plastics.

Plastic is a pollutant of unique concern, as it does not break down quickly and instead accumulates in the environment as more is produced. It carries toxic impacts throughout its lifecycle — from the impacts of oil and gas drilling to plastic refining and manufacture, to waste management, to plastic pollution that ends up in our oceans and environment.

To date, 75% of all plastic ever produced has become waste, and volumes are rising quickly. The global production of plastic increased to over 450 million metric tons in 2018 and, based on present growth rates, is projected to more than triple by 2050.

In 2015, five African countries (Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria and Morocco) are listed among the top 20 nations with the highest mismanaged plastic waste. Each generates between 0.31 and 0.97 million tonnes per year. While the first and last position held by China and the US generates an estimated 8.82 and 0.28 million tonnes per year, respectively. According to the article issued by France 24 in 2021, Cameroon produces 600,000 tonnes of plastic waste every year. 

For a treaty on plastics to be created, it must first be proposed in a draft resolution. The governments of Rwanda and Peru have done it at the Ministerial Conference on Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution, held in Geneva in September 2021. This Rwanda/Peru draft resolution proposes a global and legally binding mechanism to address the plastics crisis – a plastics treaty. More than 120 countries and hundreds of NGOs, the African Center for Advocacy included, applaud this resolution for its clarity, strength, and the inclusion of the human and environmental health element as well as its life-cycle approach. 

If the resolution is adopted at the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2), the process moves forward with the creation of an International Negotiating Committee (INC). This will create the text of such a treaty with input from stakeholders in science, policy, and advocacy. If all goes well, the potential INC could have a treaty drafted for UNEA 6.

“We ask Cameroon’s government and other member states of the United Nations to quickly negotiate a new legally binding instrument to end the ongoing threat to human, animal, and environmental health from plastics.” Said Younoussa Abbosouka, Advocacy Officer at the African Center for Advocacy (ACA).

ACA call for a legally binding global instrument on plastic pollution covering measures along the entire life cycle of plastics, including extraction of feedstocks, production, transport, use, disposal, and remediation. 

The time to act is now. Join the call https://bit.ly/3LQIwlI

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