South Africa to Adopt UN’s Plastic Pollution Treaty

  • Last week the South African cabinet adopted the negotiating mandate on the draft resolution on an internationally legally binding instrument on plastic pollution.
  • The resolution is set to be tabled at the resumed 5th session of the United Nations Environment Assembly scheduled to take place in Nairobi, Kenya, later this month from 28 February – 2 March 2022.

In a virtual briefing yesterday, South Africa’s Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy, confirmed that South Africa’s negotiating position, which is in support of addressing the issue of marine litter and plastic pollution in line with the position proposed by the African continent.

“Our country is in support of mandating the Executive Director of Unep to establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) under UNEA to negotiate an internationally legally binding instrument on plastic pollution given the environmental challenges faced as a consequence of plastic pollution,” said Creecy.

The resolution, which was originally sponsored by Rwanda and Peru, also proposes provisions which should be addressed by such an internationally legally binding instrument on plastic pollution namely:

  • The objectives of the instrument and establish as necessary targets, definitions, methodologies, formats and obligations
  • To address product design and use, including compounds, additives and harmful substances as well as intentionally added microplastics;
  • To promote national acting plans to prevent, reduce and remediate plastic pollution, tailored to local and national circumstances and the characteristics of specific sectors and support regional and international cooperation and coordination;
  • To increase knowledge through awareness raising and information exchange on best practices to prevent plastic pollution and promote behavioural change;
  • To monitor and report on national and international progress on implementation of the agreement;
  • To provide scientific and socio-economic assessments and to monitor and report on plastic pollution in the environment;
  • To cooperate and coordinate with relevant regional and international conventions, instruments and organisations;
  • To specify financial and technical arrangements as well as technology transfer assistance to support implementation of the convention
  • To address implementation and compliance issues;
  • To promote research and development into innovative solutions.

Creecy confirmed that South Africa will also, in addition to the provisions listed above, request for the inclusion of the recognition of the special needs and circumstances of Africa and that the internationally legally binding global agreement on plastics pollution must include the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in light of national circumstances.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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