Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee: UNEP
- 03 Jun 2023
- 5 min read
Why in News?
Recently, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has gathered in Paris, France, for the second meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-2).
- The first session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-1) concluded in Uruguay in 2022.
- INC-2 aimed to set the stage for negotiations on the substance of a global deal to end plastic pollution to edge closer to protecting ecosystems, species and humanity from the grave impacts of the linear plastics economy.
What are the Key Highlights of INC-2 Meeting?
- The primary agenda of INC-2 was to adopt the rules of procedure. The rules govern various aspects such as the negotiation process, decision-making procedures (consensus or voting), and the entities authorized to make decisions.
- During the previous INC-1 meeting, a part of Rule 37, stating "each member shall have one vote," was kept in brackets, indicating unresolved disagreement.
- The bracketed part now includes provisions from the Minamata Convention, allowing regional economic integration organizations (such as the European Union) to vote on behalf of their member states. However, the member states must be present during voting or as part of the committee.
- India has consistently insisted on bracketing Rule 38, which states, “The Committee shall make every effort to reach agreement on all matters of substance by consensus.
- If all efforts to reach consensus have been exhausted and no agreement has been reached, the decision shall, as a last resort, be taken by a two-thirds majority of the representatives of Members who are present and voting.”
- The formation of the OEWG (Open-Ended Working Group) has delayed the start of discussions in the contact groups on substantive matters.
- In UNEA resolution 5/14, the assembly mandated an ad hoc open-ended working group (OEWG) to lay the groundwork for negotiations.
What is the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC)?
- The INC was established in February 2022, at the 5th session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2).
- A historic resolution (5/14) was adopted to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment with the ambition to complete the negotiations by the end of 2024.
- The rapidly increasing levels of plastic pollution represent a serious global environmental issue that negatively impacts the environmental, social, economic and health dimensions of sustainable development.
- In the absence of necessary interventions, the amount of plastic waste entering aquatic ecosystems could nearly triple from some 9–14 million tonnes per year in 2016 to a projected 23–37 million tons per year by 2040.
- Under the legally binding agreement, countries will be expected to develop, implement and update national action plans reflecting country-driven approaches to contribute to the objectives of the instrument.
- They will be expected to promote national action plans to work towards the prevention, reduction and elimination of plastic pollution and to support regional and international cooperation.
What is the United Nations Environment Assembly?
- It is the governing body of the UN Environment Programme.
- It is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment.
- The Assembly is made up of the 193 UN Member States and convenes every two years to advance global environmental governance.
- It was created in June 2012, during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also referred to as RIO+20.
What are the Initiatives to tackle Plastic Pollution?