Plastics pollution and environmentally sustainable plastics trade
A group of WTO members launched in November 2020 an initiative to explore how the WTO could contribute to efforts to reduce plastics pollution and promote the transition to more environmentally sustainable trade in plastics. The Informal Dialogue on Plastics Pollution and Environmentally Sustainable Plastics Trade is open to all WTO members and seeks to complement discussions in the Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE) and other fora.
As of November 2021, WTO members are participating in the informal dialogue.
Objective of the talks
In their joint communication to the CTE after their inaugural meeting in November 2020 during the WTO Trade and Environment Week, the participants noted that the rising environmental, health and economic cost of plastics pollution — amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic — is of increasing concern to all countries, large and small, developed and developing.
They highlighted that, given the growing need for coordinated global action, the group would seek to identify opportunities for enhanced trade cooperation within the rules and mechanisms of the WTO to contribute to domestic, regional and global efforts to reduce plastics pollution and to support efforts in other fora. The informal dialogue is intended to be part of broader WTO discussions to advance environmental sustainability objectives.
Topics for discussion
The participants initially identified the following topics for discussion: improving transparency and monitoring trade trends; promoting best practices; strengthening policy coherence; identifying the scope for collective approaches; assessing capacity and technical assistance needs; and cooperating with other international processes and efforts.
Ambassador Nazhat Khan (Fiji) said there seemed to be convergence around an initial focus on transparency. The group intends to keep the CTE appraised of discussions and encourages other members to participate.
State of play
During the four meetings held since the launch of the group, participants have dedicated discussions to all of the topics listed above. They have also heard from key stakeholders on their trade-related research and on global, regional and domestic efforts to address plastic pollution. These discussions have informed the work of participating members towards issuing a ministerial statement at the 12th Ministerial Conference, which will take place at the end of November 2021.
Launch event of Ministerial Statements – TESSD, IDP, and FFSR
09:30-11:00, Wednesday 15 December 2021
Building on the momentum of the positive work already undertaken under each of these three initiatives to position trade as part of the solution for environmental challenges, this joint event recognizes the important achievements supported by a large diversity of members and provides an opportunity to publicly launch the Ministerial Statements on Trade and Environmental Sustainability, Plastic Pollution and Environmentally Sustainable Plastics Trade, as well as Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform.
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