The first day into the second round of the UN Treaty negotiations (INC-2) has come to a close. Looking back at it – and at a weekend packed with pre-meetings – I can say it has been full of surprises already.
My day started with a strategy meeting with the Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty. As an advisor to the Business Coalition, I was well aware of the high ambitions the front-running members had expressed together beforehand and how these were actually not that different from those stated by the 56 countries unified through the High Ambition Coalition. What I didn’t know is that the Business Coalition had grown to over >100 members from different parts of the world - and its numbers still continue to rise.
My main objective for the week is to get more countries and companies to understand the content and ‘how to’ of vital topics in preventing plastic pollution, such as EPR, reuse & financial mechanisms. At least the major FMCG companies here in Paris seem to increasingly understand the urgent need to set clear rules and create a level playing field. This will enable more collaboration and further needed investments.
Next, it was time for the official opening. I had a few moments to catch up with some of the delegates from countries I have been active in, and then I managed to get a great view of the opening speeches. President Macron of France kicked off, with a statement that ‘plastic pollution is a ticking time bomb and a plague that has already commenced’. For someone who typically hears different rhetoric in plastics conferences, it was a surprise to hear such outspoken language from a leading politician. He stressed that the current plastic pollution crisis requires firm action and that the ambitious countries agree we must end plastic pollution by 2040 at the latest.
For me, this echoes my own ideas on how we will have to invent new ways of producing and consuming, including through reuse. It means that collecting, separating, recycling, and reusing will need to be drastically improved and, as such, yield decent jobs and wealth, also for those in marginalised communities.