NES fully engages in the development of a global treaty to end plastic pollution.
The Cook Islands was well represented at the first International Negotiations Committee (INC) meeting to develop a legally binding global treaty to end plastic pollution. The Cook Islands delegation was made up of three National Environment Service (NES) staff (Halatoa Fua, Tohoa Puna and Cailean Henderson) and Nanette Woonton, Communications Advisor to the Secretariat of the Pacific Environment Programme (SPREP).
Tohoa Puna started with a statement to discuss the overwhelming issue of plastics from a Pa Enua perspective. In Tohoa’s statement she asked for a legally binding instrument that addresses the full life cycle of plastics, starting at the oil and gas extraction phase, known as ‘upstream’. Tohoa made a firm statement ‘I stand not only as a Cook Islander, but as youth, an indigenous person, and a woman, fighting for our remote communities. We must not wait until we have killed off all our marine life, replaced by plastic.”
Halatoa Fua delivered a statement on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) relating to the scope, objectives and options for the structure of such an instrument. The PSIDS position is for the instrument to be addressed in a specific convention with mandatory measures and financial mechanisms to include capacity building, policy development, research and access to the latest science. Halatoa stated ‘the scope and objective of the instrument needs to be broad enough to protect the environment and health of Pacific Islanders from the impacts of plastic pollution, and associated impacts from climate change’.
Cailean Henderson made the final intervention from the Cook Islands to support the motion by other countries to finalise venues of the next negotiation meetings and focus on the work ahead. Cailean noted ‘we need to allocate this time for the essential and significant work ahead of us to achieve what we are here for – a global treaty on plastic pollution.’ Cailean’s statement was met with applause from member states and observers keen to see this treaty progress as quickly as possible.
The team effort from the Cook Islands garnered great support from other member states and observers. There are four negotiation meetings that will take place in 2023 and 2024 to help form the structure of this new global treaty. The draft rule of procedures and submissions can be found on https://www.unep.org/events/conference/inter-governmental-negotiating-committee-meeting-inc-1