The Cook Islands participated in the second session of Intergovernmental Negotiations Committee (INC2) meeting in Paris earlier this month, to establish a legally binding treaty to end plastic pollution.
The Cook Islands delegation comprised of Halatoa Fua, Head of Delegation, Director, National Environment Service, Tekura Moeka’a, National Environment Service, Teuru Passfield, Senior Foreign Affairs Officer, Ministry and Foreign Affairs and Immigration and Nanette Woonton, Communications and Outreach Adviser from SPREP.
Head of delegation, Halatoa Fua recognised Palau, the Pacific SIDS (PSIDS) Chair for their exemplary leadership. Palau spearheaded the collective efforts of PSIDS in developing a unified stance on tackling the global plastic crisis. PSIDs were commended for their organisation at the INC2.
Developments from the meeting included the confirmation of bureau members for various regions and groups. Antigua and Barbuda were appointed as representatives for Small Island Developing States, while the United States and Sweden would serve on behalf of the Western European and Others Group (WEOG). Georgia and Estonia were selected to represent the Eastern European Group (EEG).
The meeting was occupied by a long debate over the rules of procedure. The rules of procedure were provisionally approved, albeit with some bracketed text in Rule 37 and a footnote in Rule 38.1. These provisions will be further refined and clarified in subsequent sessions to ensure the smooth functioning of the treaty.
Two contact groups, consisting of member states and groupings (EU, AOSIS, HAC), discussed their positions based on the Options Paper. The contact groups were an opportunity to see where ideas converged and diverged. This collaborative approach allowed for comprehensive discussions on various aspects of the treaty and fostered inclusive deliberations. Most importantly, the INC2 served its purpose with mandate to prepare a zero-draft text. This draft is to be considered at INC3 later this year in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Cook Islands will continue engagement with the Pacific SIDS, Association of Small Islands States (AOSIS) and the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) by actively participating and fostering a collaborative spirit. Through these partnerships, the Cook Islands aims to build momentum in developing a treaty that calls for a reduction in the production and consumption of plastics, coupled with a national action plan that addresses downstream measures.