Climate and Environment

Green groups urge nations to negotiate a treaty to curb plastic pollution

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Green groups urge nations to negotiate a treaty to curb plastic pollution
A scavenger picks up plastic trash from Manila bay despite the rain and waves as monsoon rains affect the city on September 16, 2019.
AFP/Maria Tan

MANILA, Philippines — Environmental groups called on countries to support the creation of a negotiating panel with a mandate to prepare an international treaty to combat the plastic crisis.

United Nations member states will convene online and in Nairobi, Kenya from February 28 to March 2 to draw up a blueprint for a global agreement on plastic pollution.

The Philippines is a co-sponsor of a resolution which proposes that the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) form an International Negotiating Committee (INC) with a mandate to develop an agreement to prevent and reduce plastic pollution in the environment, including microplastics, by promoting a circular economy and addressing the full lifecycle of plastics from production, consumption and design to waste prevention, management and treatment.

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines stressed a future international plastics treaty must be legally binding, be specific about what nations need to do, be ambitious, and must incentivize participation and compliance.

“WWF encourages everyone to join the global movement for an ambitious international legally binding agreement on plastic pollution to protect nature and people from the harmful effects of plastic pollution,” said Marilyn Quizon-Mercado, regional plastic policy coordination of the No Plastic in Nature Initiative.

“All eyes will be on UNEA-5.2 to see how governments, including our own, will come to an agreement on a robust negotiation mandate that will speed up not decelerate the required global action to stem the tide of toxic plastic pollution,” said Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition.

For Mother Earth Foundation chairman Sonia Mendoza, a globally agreed reduction target on plastic production is essential in promoting eco-friendly alternative delivery models such as reuse and refill systems and biodegradable packaging.

If UN member states can agree on a basic framework, it will take years for a final treaty to be sealed.

Transboundary problem

Plastic pollution is a major problem in the Philippines, a nation listed among the top contributors to marine plastic crisis.

Groups urged Congress to pass a comprehensive legislation banning single-use plastics and the National Solid Waste Management Commission to issue a list of non-environmentally acceptable product and packaging.

“We would like to work with the global community on how to address the plastic problem as we know that plastic pollution is transboundary and cross-sectoral problem which cannot be solved through national or regional initiatives alone,” said Albert Magalang, chief of the environment department’s Climate Change Division.

According to a WWF study released this month, there will be “significant ecological risks” in many areas, putting species and ecosystems in danger, if no action is taken to cut global production and use of plastics.

In a survey published Tuesday, 88% of respondents worldwide stressed the importance of a global treaty to curb plastic pollution.

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