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Plastics dialogue launches three workstreams to advance discussions

Participants in the Informal Dialogue on Plastics Pollution and Environmentally Sustainable Plastics Trade (IDP) launched on 18 March discussions in three new workstreams to advance work on reducing plastics waste. This marks the first step in implementing the IDP Ministerial Statement announced in December 2021, said Australia, co-coordinator of the IDP.

The three workstreams, outlined in the IDP’s latest work plan, are intended to advance work on implementing the IDP Ministerial Statement, which sets out a roadmap for supporting global efforts to reduce plastics pollution and environmentally sustainable plastics trade. Each workstream will entail informal discussions and workshops to address specific topics in the Ministerial Statement.

The three workstreams comprise:

1: crosscutting issues, including capacity building and technical assistance, fostering international cooperation on transparency and data, and collaboration among intergovernmental organizations;

2: promoting trade to tackle plastic pollution, including environmentally sustainable waste management technologies, environmentally sustainable and effective substitutes and alternatives, and reused and recycled plastics, including by incentivizing increased reuse and recycling of plastics and technologies for environmentally sustainable and effective substitutes and alternatives;

3: circularity and reduction to tackle plastic pollution, which looks at how trade-related cooperation could help to support efforts to reduce unnecessary or harmful plastics and plastic products, including single-use plastics and plastic packaging associated with international trade. Participants will also share experiences of effective approaches to moving towards more circular resource-efficient and environmentally sustainable plastics trade.

Ecuador and China, two co-coordinators of the IDP, highlighted the importance of the three workstreams as a complementary track to the IDP formal meetings. By engaging leading organizations in the workstreams and hearing about their work in the field, IDP participants can advance work between formal meetings and make progress towards achieving concrete outcomes, they said. The workstreams are open to all co-sponsors and interested WTO members, they emphasized.

The discussions were jointly facilitated by the United Kingdom (for workstream 1), the Philippines (workstream 2) and Colombia (workstream 3).

Representatives of a number of organizations presented their latest activities in tackling plastics pollution. The United Nations Environment Programme reported on the launch of negotiations on a global agreement on plastics pollution, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development presented its Global Plastics Outlook, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development outlined its technical assistance on plastic pollution. Participants also heard about the new regional projects conducted by the Basel, Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions and the initiatives of many other international organizations.

Participants welcomed the expertise shared at the meeting. Colombia described the discussion as “not only very informative and sobering, but also inspiring”. It noted that cooperation and collaboration are two key words recurring in the presentations. Trade must also contribute to addressing the global problem of plastics pollution, it said.

The facilitators will report on the discussions at the meeting scheduled to take place on 30 March. All presentations will soon be available on the dedicated webpage of the IDP.

According to the IDP work plan, three more meetings are tentatively scheduled for 25 May, 6 October and 7 December.