An abbreviated version of this statement was read in the INC-2 closing plenary on June 2nd, 2023. UNESCO HQ by Satyarupa Shekhar, BFFP Asia Pacific Coordinator.
Break Free From Plastic is a global movement of over 3000 organizations representing millions of people who share a common goal - a future free from plastic pollution.
As the world has come to realize, the global plastics crisis is one that continues to be driven by ever increasing production of plastics, and if left unchecked, can only escalate and worsen the major planetary threats we face today, including the climate emergency, serious biodiversity loss, unprecedented toxics and microplastic pollution with profound human health implications. Plastic pollution equates to gross violations of human rights across the entire plastic supply chain, and all of these underscore why we are all here today.
As we look forward to a strong zero draft and time-abiding intersessional work, we call on this committee to ensure:
- That we don't lose sight of the urgency to act now and act decisively! To eliminate plastic pollution, we must reduce production by including provisions on freeze and phase-downs of plastic production! We must not allow polluters and fossil fuel interests to delay, derail and distract us from the mandate of the (INC). The continued fixation on voluntary measures, recycling, along with the promotion of false solutions such as plastic offsetting, WTE, and chemical recycling, only serve to delay and distract us from the need to address the root causes of this crisis. Rather, we must focus on securing a dedicated financial mechanism that will provide the necessary resources to deliver a strong and ambitious legally binding treaty (that will truly end plastic pollution).
- Ensure diverse civil society participation to realize the mandate for “the widest and most effective participation possible” that calls on and listens to the expertise and the wisdom of Indigenous Peoples, Waste Pickers, Women, Youth, impacted communities, workers/trade unions, scientists and other rights-holders. We are encouraged to hear some delegations support a just transition to safer and more sustainable livelihoods for workers and communities across the plastics supply chain. In the same vein, we call on you, to protect the integrity of the process and the scientific basis for your decisions, which must be free from commercial and vested interests.
- Prioritize reuse; Here, finally, lies the opportunity to faithfully adhere and realize the vision behind the waste management hierarchy. Reduction and Reuse must come first, and we hope by setting prioritized, mandated, and ambitious targets on the same, this process will lay the foundation for the transformation that is required to move our societies towards real circular and regenerative solutions. We have the opportunity to embed solutions that allow us to reverse environmental ruin and regenerate the planet’s life support systems.
The world is watching; we are watching, and our children are watching. We remain optimistic that the future INCs will guarantee meaningful access to civil society groups and rights holders and that you will not squander this historic opportunity to do what is right for the planet and our future.