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No consensus on intersessional work on INC-3 last day; revised zero draft to form basis of next session

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INC-4 to be hosted by Ottawa, Canada in a few months; INC-5 by Busan, South Korea in November 2024

The revised zero draft is to serve as a starting point for the basis of the next sessions. Photo: @IISD_ENB / X (formerly Twitter)

The closing day of the third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-3) on plastic pollution went by hearing contact groups’ co-facilitators. The day culminated in an agreement on a revised zero draft being made available to all negotiators. The INC-3 took place from November 13 to 19 at United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. 

Delegates from across the globe engaged in discussions on revised sections of the zero draft text and Synthesis Report at the INC-3. The discussions were aimed at developing an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution. 

This draft is to serve as a starting point for the basis of the next sessions, it was agreed upon. The co-facilitators of contact groups, which were made up of delegates representing participating countries, presented extensive summaries reflecting the week’s work on technical and regulatory elements of the zero draft. The summaries also included institutional arrangements and general and final provisions. 

The INC Chair formed three contact groups with participating delegates and member countries to address specific sections of the zero draft. One group was dedicated to reviewing parts I (the text on the objective) and II of the annex, making recommendations on the text of the instrument. 

The second group will review parts III and IV of the annex, making recommendations on the text of the instrument. The third group was constituted to review the document UNEP / PP / INC-3 / INF / 1 and the summary of the preparatory meeting, identifying possible elements not discussed at the second session for inclusion in parts I, V and VI of the draft. Also, to identify any related intersessional work required for the fourth and fifth sessions of INC.

A co-facilitator of contact group 3, Danny Rahdiansyah from Indonesia, stated: “During INC-3, co-facilitators of contact group 1 and contact group 2 prepared merged text on the basis of the compilation of submissions annexed in the meeting report and statements from members in the zero draft text. The committee (INC) requires the (INC) secretariat to compile (the following) in a single revised draft text from INC-3: The merged texts put forward by contact groups 1 and 2; and the outcome document of contact group 3 following the outline of the zero draft text.” 

Jyoti Mathur-Filippis is the executive secretary for the Secretariat, INC. 

“When compiling the revised draft text from INC-3, the secretariat is requested to standardise the formatting of the document and to correct any clear typographical errors in the document without making any substantive changes to its contents. The secretariat will make the revised draft text from INC-3 available in the INC website in English by  December 31, 2023. The draft will be the starting point and basis of textual negotiation at INC-4,” stated the contact group 3 co-facilitator.

Contact group 2 had Katherine Lynch from Australia and Oliver Boachie from Ghana as its co-facilitators. “Group 2 had finalised a validation of the ten sections of the compiled text towards the revised zero draft, including a full compilation, possible mergers, and streamlining of members’ submissions, thereby completing their work,” Boachie told the Chair. 

In the closing plenary, Group 3 Co-facilitator Rahdiansyah conveyed to the Chair that the group was unable to reach consensus on intersessional work.

Towards the close of the last sessions, the United States asked that agenda item number 4 by contact group 3 be reopened. Brazil supported the US call for reopening the agenda item concerned with intersessional work. However, Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation opposed it and there was no consensus on it.

“You have agreed that a revised draft will be available for all negotiators as a starting point for the basis of next round. Yes, there were areas to be explored more deeply and contact group 3 did face some obstacles that they were working. Nevertheless, tremendous progress was made by you,” Executive Director UNEP Inger Andersen said.

Noting that approximately 1,500 participants attended INC-3, the INC Secretariat threw light upon the progress made during the session. Gustavo Adolfo Meza-Cuadra Velasquez stepped down as the INC Chair and Luis Vayas Valdivieso, Ecuador, will replace him as the INC Chair for the remainder of the plastic treaty sessions.

A day before the closing of INC-3, delegates had completed a first review of the contents of the revised sections of the zero draft related to the modalities and means of implementation of the future instrument on plastic pollution.

INC-4 and INC-5 are scheduled to be hosted by Ottawa, Canada a few months from now and by Busan, South Korea in November, 2024, respectively. 


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