Manila, Philippines—Over 300 young people from around the world gathered on April 14-15, 2023, for the #BreakFreeFromPlastic Youth Summit 2023 to share their voices and skills for a future free of plastic pollution. The two-day virtual event serves as a capacity-building and alliance-building event to help young people and youth-serving organizations be better equipped to launch campaigns and activities to engage governments and country delegations participating in the international negotiations for the Global Plastics Treaty.
In March 2022, the United Nations approved an agreement to create a global plastics treaty— the world's first legally binding document to end plastic pollution— adopted at the conclusion of the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2). The global plastics treaty will cover measures to address pollution throughout the existence of plastic, from extraction to remediation. Countries are set to start the second of the five-part negotiations (International Negotiating Committee--INC-2) for the drafting of the global plastics treaty in the last week of May 2023. The final draft of the treaty is expected to be done by 2024.
Young peoples' voices are instrumental in effecting significant change and influencing governments to push for high ambitions and measures for the global plastics treaty as negotiations continue over the next year and a half.
The two-day youth summit equipped young people with the necessary knowledge about the Global Plastics Treaty process, its significance, and how they could take part in this critical juncture in the fight to end plastic pollution, through national campaigns and projects. Experts from different countries and fields shared their knowledge and joined discussions on plastic pollution, policy making, youth leadership, national and global campaigns, and other opportunities for concrete actions.
The event also opened doors for youth organizations and alliances to join the #BreakFreeFromPlastic movement and support global plastics treaty demands of civil society groups.
“I strongly believe that a global plastic treaty is essential for communities all over the world. The overwhelming amount of single-use plastic waste that ends up in the Global South, predominantly due to Global North accountability, has far-reaching consequences for our ecosystems, wildlife, and human health,” said Taylen Reddy of Zero Waste Durban. “A global plastic treaty would unite nations in tackling the issue of plastic pollution and put the onus on those who are most responsible for it. Moreover, this treaty would provide a strong framework to combat waste colonialism and ensure a more equitable distribution of responsibility.”
“Youth power is the life of the fight for a legally binding Global Plastics Treaty,” said Jairus Chiu of Kabiling Lunhaw Philippines. “This fight isn’t just for the present youth, but for the future as well. Amplifying youth voices in this agenda is a statement to the leaders and policymakers of the world that this is what we want and what we desperately need. Youth power is simply the most dynamic, explosive, creative, and innovative force there is and the world needs it to achieve our ambitious Global Plastics Treaty.”
“Young peoples’ energy, passion, and imagination is their biggest strength—they can move mountains if they want to,” said Tiara Samson of Break Free From Plastic. “The way they organize quickly, and make noise is unparalleled, and their anger can be channeled towards longer term goals for policy advocacy. The Global Plastics Treaty (GPT) is a historical opportunity to rally towards a just future for themselves, as they have long been demonstrating that they are leaders of today. Convening them to ideate and enabling them to work towards their goals by engaging meaningfully with the GPT process is only.”
About BFFP — #BreakFreeFromPlastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in 2016, more than 2,700 organizations and 11,000 individual supporters from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. BFFP member organizations and individuals share the values of environmental protection and social justice and work together through a holistic approach to bring about systemic change. This means tackling plastic pollution across the whole plastics value chain – from extraction to disposal – focusing on prevention rather than cure and providing effective solutions. www.breakfreefromplastic.org.