In an article published on March 18, 2019, non-governmental organization the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) informed about discussions on plastic pollution that took place at the Fourth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-4) in Nairobi on March 4-8 and 11-15. During the two-week event, UN member states “considered several resolutions designed to increase international action to halt plastic pollution.” One was proposed by Norway, Japan and Sri Lanka that aimed “to strengthen international cooperation and coordination on marine plastic litter and microplastics, including through considering a possible new legally binding agreement.” A second was a proposal by India to “promote the phase-out of single-use plastics worldwide.” A full report of outcomes from each day of the meeting is provided online.

However, CIEL writes that the discussions did not result in delivering action at the scale and urgency needed to address the issue. “Despite sweeping agreement by the majority of countries that urgent, ambitious, and global action is needed to address plastic across its lifecycle – from production to use to disposal – a small minority led by the United States (US) blocked ambitious text and delayed negotiations.” However, members states were reported to secure “the basic elements that will allow the building of future actions, based on the common vision that emerged among the vast majority of countries during the discussions.” This includes an extension of the expert working group on the topic established at the previous UNEA meeting, which CIEL writes “keeps plastic on the international agenda and provides an opportunity to consider a future legally binding agreement.”

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CIEL (March 15, 2019). “Tyranny of the Minority Slows International Progress on Addressing Plastic Pollution.”

Plastics Pollution Coalition (March 15, 2019). “Tyranny of the minority slows international progress on addressing plastic pollution.

IISD Reporting Services (March 15, 2019). “4th Meeting of the Open-Ended Committee of Permanent Representatives to UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and 4th Session of the UN Environment Assembly.

IISD Reporting Services (March 19, 2019). “UNEA-4 Commits to Global Environmental Data Strategy, Reducing Single-use Plastics.