“We have a crisis, a plastic crisis that requires a concerted effort from all of us, from everyone. And at all levels.,” said Dr. Filimone Manoni, Pacific Oceans Commissioner in his address to the Pacific country representatives at the Pacific Preparatory Workshop toward a new plastic pollution treaty, in Koror, Palau this week.

The workshop aims to ensure that the Pacific’s voice is heard in the negotiations towards the new global plastic treaty, which is expected to be finalized in 2024.

The Pacific Preparatory Workshop organized by the Secretariat of the Pacific Environmental Program (SPREP) with representatives from 14 Pacific Island countries, Australia, and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in attendance, took place this October 18 to 20, 2023, in Koror, Palau.  It is one of the five International Negotiating Committee (INC) meetings on the new plastic treaty.

In her opening remarks, Australian Ambassador to Palau Ritchelle Turner said Australia is “firmly committed to negotiating an ambitious, legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution.”

“We understand the urgency of the plastics challenge facing our climate and oceans and are committed to being a full partner in the global fight to solve it,” she said.

Turner also said that Australia is seeking a treaty that addresses the full lifecycle of plastics, promotes a circular economy, eliminates problematic and unnecessary plastics, and accelerates the removal of harmful chemicals from productive supply chains.

Pacific Ocean Commissioner Dr. Filimone Manoni said that the Pacific is “at the front line of plastic pollution” and that the region has a “collective responsibility” to ensure its interests are reflected in the new treaty.

“We all have a vital role to play in the negotiations,” he said. “We will all be that strong voice that the Pacific needs.”

The conference is expected to discuss a range of issues related to the new treaty, including the scope, objectives, and key elements. The participants will also develop a set of recommendations for the Pacific’s negotiating position.

“As big ocean states, we need to come together to ensure that our voices are heard and reflected in the future instruments,” said Minister Steven Victor of Palau’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment.

The new global plastic pollution treaty is seen as a critical step in tackling the global plastic pollution crisis. Plastic pollution is a major threat to marine life, human health, and global biodiversity.

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