Agreement in Nairobi on global deal against plastic pollution

Source: press release, 3 March 2022

Climate and Environment Minister of Norway, Espen Barth Eide, led the negotiations as President of the Fifth UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya
Climate and Environment Minister of Norway, Espen Barth Eide, led the negotiations as President of the Fifth UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya (photo: KLD)

World leaders agreed on a new international, binding agreement on plastic pollution through a full lifecycle approach to be finalised by 2024. The decision marks a historical achievement in the global cooperation against plastic pollution.

Following 12 days of negotiations, world leaders agreed to work for an international legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution. Climate and Environment Minister of Norway, Espen Barth Eide, led the negotiations as President of the Fifth UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya.

“This is a historic moment for environmental multilateralism. The agreement in Nairobi is the most important decision on the environment since the Paris agreement. Plastic pollution is an enormous problem with implications for the environment and humanity. It was about time we took this crucial step,” says Norwegian Climate and Environment Minister Barth Eide.

Consensus
“This is an agreement driven by developing countries that commits to cooperation. I am proud that the agreement was reached in consensus with support from countries from all corners of the world in different stages of development. Norway stands ready to lead and support in the next stages,” says Eide.

More than 170 countries took part in the UN Environment Assembly. The resolution put forward by Peru, Rwanda, Japan and India emphasised the urgency of initiatives to eliminate plastic leakage and promote circular economy measures for plastics.

Rapidly growing environmental issue
Plastic pollution is one of the world’s most rapidly growing environmental issues. Over the course of the next 20 years, the increase in plastic waste is forecast to double, while plastic leakage into the sea is expected to triple and the total volume of plastic in the oceans may increase fourfold.

Norway introduced the issue at the UN Environment Assembly in 2014 and the Nordic countries advocated for a new global agreement in 2019.

The world now agrees to develop an agreement promoting circular economy for plastics with additional positive effects on climate, biodiversity and pollution. A circular economy for plastic will create opportunities for green jobs and sustainable business.

Supported by global brands
The United Nations has developed a solid science-policy interface for decision-making in member countries. Many countries have put in place bans on single use plastic and plastic bags. However, these measures have proven insufficient as production of plastics and the amount of plastic waste are expected to further increase in the coming years.

An increasing number of nations have over the years realised that a legally binding agreement would be the best option to ensure success in the long run.

The negotiations during the UN Environment Assembly succeeded despite the COVID-19 pandemic and difficult geopolitical circumstance. Major economies across the continents supported a new agreement and more than 80 global brands and companies called for a new agreement with clear and predictable policy frameworks.