“We must not wait until we have killed off all our marine life, replaced by plastic,” Cook Islands appeal to the global community. 

The Cook Islands made an emotion plea to over 190 countries who gathered to negotiate a new treaty on plastic pollution was met with strong applause in Uruguay.
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"We must not wait until we have killed off all our marine life, replaced by plastic," Cook Islands appeal to the global community. 

The Cook Islands made an emotion plea to over 190 countries who gathered to negotiate a new treaty on plastic pollution was met with strong applause in Uruguay on Monday. 

The First session of the International Negotiating Committee to develop a legally binding agreement on plastic pollution is now underway with expectations for a new treaty to be finalised by the end of 2024. The Cook Islands was clear in its call for a legally binding instrument that addresses the full life cycle of plastics – starting from sourcing, upstreaming, mid-streaming and down-streaming.

NES’s Tohoa Puna addressed the main plenary stating, “Today, my islands are overwhelmed with a plastic crisis that we cannot manage. We have overflowing waste management facilities, full of toxic waste like plastics that we bury, burn or live with. ” 

“The shores of our remote islands are full of washed-up plastic waste from all over the world – we are the new colonies of others’ waste.”

Having started the negotiations of a new internationally legally binding agreement, the Cook Islands supports the development of a specific convention where core obligations and some control measures appear in the body of the instrument, giving the governing body the possibility to be adapted in the future throughout adjustment, amendments and protocols.

The Cook Islands also promoted non-toxic circular economy approaches to addressing plastics ensuring equitable, adequate means to participate in the design of the instrument and its implementation, including support for capacity building and technology transfer.

The Cook Islands believes this should be a priority for Pacific Small Islands Developing States on the front line of the plastics pollution crisis.

“We continue to receive plastics in almost every product, toxic or non-toxic, harming our environment, our ecosystems, our food security and our health and wellbeing,” presented Ms Puna.

“I am here today because I believe in this global treaty as our last hope to end plastic pollution. I believe that you will do the right thing and do what is right. I am here to ask that we all work together.”

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The National Environment Service is established to protect, conserve and ensure the Cook Islands environment is managed sustainably. The agency is headed by a Director with delegated powers to carry out the functions of the Environment Act 2003.

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