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World leaders unanimous on plastics pact in Nairobi: ‘Most important agreement since Paris’


World leaders have agreed on a global treaty against plastic. It is, according to experts, “the most ambitious decision since the Montreal Protocol in 1989 to protect the ozone layer. This was announced yesterday at the climate summit in Nairobi, Kenya.

Plastic production is expected to quadruple by 2050, causing a lot of environmental problems.

World leaders, environmental ministers and other concerned organizations from 173 countries gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, over the past few days. Topic of discussion: the global plastic problem.

Promising agreement

De lidstaten zijn overeengekomen om een wettelijk bindend verdrag te ontwikkelen.

The outcome is promising. Member states have agreed to develop a legally binding treaty. The resolution calls for a treaty that covers the entire life cycle of plastics – from production to disposal. Over the next two years, member states will negotiate the specifics of this.

The resolution was adopted at the end of the three-day UN summit, also known as the 5.2 meeting, which was attended by more than 3,400 in-person delegates and 1,500 online participants from all UN member states, including 79 ministers and 17 senior officials.

‘Most important agreement since Paris’

According to the head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Inger Andersen, this agreement is “the most important multilateral environmental agreement since the Paris climate accord in 2015. On Twitter, she wrote, “We just passed the resolution that paves the way for global action to #BeatPlasticPollution. The most important environmental agreement since the Paris Agreement. The work starts now!”

Oskar de Roos, plastics expert at the Dutch office of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), is relieved about the unanimous decision: “A lot of hard work has gone into achieving this result. This treaty should ensure that we use less plastic, that recycling is improved and that there are more alternatives to plastic. In the end, we will create cleaner oceans that will benefit us all.”

Production, design and waste


The countries agree on the need to regulate the production and design of plastic as well as plastic waste. This year the negotiating committee will start drafting the treaty. By 2024 it should be finished and actually implemented.

But that doesn’t mean nothing happens in those two years. UNEP’s Andersen described the agreement as a “triumph of planet Earth over single-use plastics,” but warned that the mandate did not give stakeholders a “two-year pause.”

‘Population also supports ban on plastic’

Earlier this month, a poll by Ipsos, commissioned by The Plastic Free Foundation and the WWF, showed that three-quarters of the world’s population is in favor of a ban on disposable plastic. At the time, the figures showed the urgency of the demand for a global plastic treaty.

Still, the poll showed that not everyone was happy with a plastic ban. Earlier this month, it emerged that major oil and chemical companies are devising strategies to throw off a possible ban on disposable plastic.

Major manufacturers say they have their own goals for reducing plastic use. For example, Coca-Cola said earlier this month that by 2030 it wants to make 25 percent of the packaging it uses worldwide reusable.