Negotiating for Change

All governments, businesses, and individuals must play a critical role in solving the problem. The treaty negotiations are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to end plastic pollution, and negotiators must build a coalition that recognizes the urgency of the situation and combines it with pragmatism and a ‘big tent’ approach that incorporates all parties. There is still a chance to prevent irreversible economic, health, and environmental damage from plastic pollution. But that opportunity will be gone without a strong treaty in place by the end of 2024.

When negotiators arrive in Ottawa this April for INC-4, leaning into evidence-based decisions and holding firm on key treaty provisions will help get us the outcome our planet needs. WWF advocates for establishing specific and common regulations targeting high-risk plastic products and uses along the full lifecycle of plastics.

The success of the treaty—and its potential to end plastic pollution—will depend on whether the revised ‘zero draft’ establishes:

  • Global bans, phaseouts, and phasedowns of problematic and avoidable plastic products and uses, and of plastic polymers and chemicals of concern.
  • Global requirements for product design and systems, securing a safe and non-toxic circular economy, prioritizing reuse, improving recycling, and securing the environmentally sound management of plastic waste.
  • Strong implementation support measures, including sufficient financial support and alignment of public and private financial flows.

The revised ‘zero draft’ reflects the global majority's shared commitment to a strong treaty with strong global rules to eliminate the most problematic, high-risk, and harmful plastic substances and products and transition to a safe circular economy.

At the same time, it points to the greatest challenge ahead: Eensuring that the final treaty text in 2024 includes all of the necessary binding obligations across the entire life cycle of plastics to make this treaty effective for its purpose and that it is a springboard for additional measures that will get us to solve the plastic waste crisis.

Specific, common, binding global rules are a necessity for ending plastic pollution. We must take learnings of what works and what doesn’t, from previous global agreements.

There are several important outcomes from INC-4 needed to position all responsible nations on track for a successful, final INC-5 later this year, including:

  • A consensus on text outlining key control measures and obligations (including bans, product design and finance).
  • A mandate for the chair to produce a new, updated zero draft.
  • An agreement by all countries for formal intersessional work to take place between INC-4 and INC-5 to advance negotiations and make progress on key decisions.

Negotiators are urged to focus their energy on jointly designing the best possible global rules that will benefit all. Now is the time to aim high.