Third Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution (INC- 3)

13-19th November 2023, Nairobi, Kenya

Plastic pollution is a global issue. Tonnes of garbage flow into water bodies through out the year, contaminating rivers and seas and considered to be one of the most significant sources of declining biodiversity and ecological degradation. Moreover, adversely impacts on the environmental, socio economic well-being and health aspects of sustainable development.

To reduce plastic pollution, an organized framework of action is required at both the national and international levels. United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) officially adopted resolution 5/14 on 22nd March, announcing an initial milestone towards addressing the hazards caused by plastic pollution. This formed an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding mechanism on plastic pollution.

UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya organized the third session of Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-3) to draft an international legally enforceable agreement on plastic pollution, particularly in marine environment. The first and second INCs were held in Uruguay and France in November-December, 2022 and May-June, 2023 respectively. INC-3 was held during November 13 to 19, 2023 in which more than 1,900 delegates participated from various UN entities, NGOS and intergovernmental organisations. Before the main meeting, a preparatory meeting was held on 11 November, to discuss the Synthesis report of the submissions by governments and observers.

The INC-3 meeting discussed the Zero Draft text, prepared by the INC Chair. The work of INC-3 was organised around three Contact Groups: Contact Group 1 addressed Part I and Part II of the Zero Draft, Contact Group 2 focused on Part III and IV of the same, and Contact Group 3 dealt with elements not covered in previous sessions including, principles, scope and definition. Member states made interventions on the different provisions in the Zero Draft and divergent views were noted, especially on section related to primary plastic polymers.

The country submissions were compiled to one consolidated text with options for the different provisions. INC-3 created a merged document verified by Member States as a negotiation starting point for INC-4 taking place on 21-30 April 2024 in Canada. The revised draft text from INC-3 was made available on the INC website from 31 December 2023. The three Contact Groups identified potential areas for inter-sessional work, but consensus was not reached for any of them. Thus, there will be no intersessional work until after INC-4.

India’s focus on nationally driven targets and the stance against any restrictions on primary plastic polymers and trade was a bit concerning. The country position to focus primarily on plastic recycling was also a bit disappointing.

Ms Priti Banthia Mahesh, Chief Programme Coordinator, Toxics Link, who had participated in INC-3 conference made an intervention in the regional meeting advocating for clear mandate on chemicals in plastic, reducing primary plastic production, and strong enforcement on ground. In her statement, she also spoke about the need to address the issue of micro and nano plastics.

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