The third and penultimate round of intergovernmental negotiations (INC-3) for an Internationally legally binding instrument (ILBI) on plastic pollution that is expected to be ready for ratification by 2024 began Monday, Nov. 13, in Nairobi, Kenya.

Much more work needs to be done, and there are three main points to follow. First, delegates will have to decide whether to adopt the Zero Draft prepared by the INC Secretariat as the basis for future treaty discussions. Then they will have to consider the INC Secretariat's synthesis report on member’s comments on the elements not discussed at INC-2 (purpose, principles, preamble and definitions to be included in the treaty). Finally, they will have to adopt the Rules of Procedure, on which there is disagreement and whose discussions have so far slowed down the work.

The clash over the purpose of the treaty

UNEA Resolution 5/14 in March 2022 gave a mandate to negotiate a legally binding treaty based on “a comprehensive approach that addresses the full life cycle of plastic”, but among members there are differing views on what should be included in the scope of the treaty.

On Nov. 3, the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution, a group of more than 60 members represented by Rwanda and Norway, issued a joint statement reaffirming its "commitment to ending plastic pollution by 2040 and [its] [...] call for the establishment of an ambitious and effective treaty to protect human health and the environment from plastic pollution based on a comprehensive approach that addresses the full life cycle of plastics."

This group of countries, which has been active since August 2022 and includes many African and Central American states, Canada, Australia, Japan, several European countries, the European Union and the United Kingdom, also reiterates "the call for binding provisions in the treaty to restrain and reduce the consumption and production of primary plastic polymers."