Press Release

April 30, 2024
  • Water & Soil

Outline of the Fourth Session of Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to Develop an International Legally Binding Instrument on Plastic Pollution, Including in the Marine Environment

  1. The fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (INC4), took place from April 23 to 29, 2024, in Ottawa, Canada.
  2. The session was attended by approximately 2,500 participants from approximately 170 UN Member States, relevant international organizations, and NGOs. The government delegation from Japan consisted of officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (delegation head: Ms. OKANO Yukiko, Deputy Director-General of the International Cooperation Bureau), the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the Ministry of the Environment, and the Fisheries Agency. In addition, during the session, ONO Hiroshi, Senior Advisor to the Minister of the Environment, regularly hosted regional meetings as the Bureau (Vice-Chair) of the Asia-Pacific region.

■Outline of the session

(1) In this session, discussions on streamlining and integrating the draft text (options) were held based on the revised version of the draft text prepared as a result of the third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC3) held in November last year.

Discussions were held in multiple groups on each fields such as:
(i) preamble, scope, objective and principles;
(ii) core obligations (primary plastic polymers, chemicals and polymers of concern, problematic and avoidable plastic products, product design, extended producer responsibility (EPR), waste management, etc.); and
(iii) means of implementation (financial and technical support, national action plans, etc.).
As a result of negotiations, there were areas in which options were streamlined and integrated, while there were also those in which additional options were proposed and further discussions were needed.
It was confirmed that the Secretariat will prepare a draft text that integrates the results of this session and make it the negotiating document at the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC5), and that it will continue towards completing its work by the end of 2024.
(2) In addition, it was agreed that during the intersessional period up to INC5, technical work will be carried out on (i) technical matters related to core obligations such as criteria and non criteria based approaches with regard to plastic products, and chemicals of concern in plastic products, and product design, and (ii) means of implementation such as financial and technical support. An ad hoc intersessional open-ended expert group meetings will be held on each of these issues.
At the same time, it was decided to establish a group (legal drafting group) to carry out legal work on the draft text of the instrument.
(3) Japan addressed the following, and contributed to the progress of negotiations by making concrete proposals on overarching obligations, product design, support for the implementation of the instrument, etc.:
(i) the need for a clear time-bound target in the objective of the instrument, and to include the ambition to reduce additional plastic pollution to zero by 2040;
(ii) the need for a provision calling for each country to establish a mechanism in society to promote plastic circularity and promote efforts throughout the life cycle from production to waste management, as overarching obligations for each country;
(iii) the need for individual control measures that are effective to prevent plastic pollution, and to ambitiously address aspects such as reducing single-use plastics, promoting environmentally-friendly product design, enhancing reuse, recycling, and sound waste management, rather than an one-size-fits-all restriction on the production of primary plastic polymers; and
(iv) in support of the implementation of the instrument, the importance of establishing a basic waste management system, and the need to focus on most effective and cost-efficient measures, and for them to be provided to countries most in need in a sustainable manner, in addition to the importance of regularly reviewing the formulation and reporting of national action plans and the progress of implementation in order to ensure the efforts of each country.
(4) It was reconfirmed that INC5 will be held from November 25 to December 1, 2024 in Busan, Republic of Korea.

[Reference 1] Bureaus (Vice-Chairs)

At the INC, ten Bureaus (Vice-Chairs) in total are elected from the following regions: Asia-Pacific States, African States, Latin American and Caribbean States, Western European and Other States, Eastern European States, and Small-Island Developing States, and serve roles including the operation of the Committee together with the Chair. From Japan, ONO Hiroshi, Senior Advisor to the Minister of the Environment, serves as the Bureau (Vice-Chair) of the Asia-Pacific region.

[Reference 2] Outline of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to Develop an International Legally Binding Instrument on Plastic Pollution, Including in the Marine Environment (INC)

In March 2022, at the resumed fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2), a resolution entitled “End plastic pollution: Towards an international legally binding instrument” was adopted, and the establishment of INC was decided.
The INC consisting of five sessions from November 2022 to the end of 2024, aims to complete its work on developing an international instrument. INC1 took place in Punta del Este, Uruguay in November 2022, INC2 in Paris, France in May 2023, and INC3 in Nairobi, Kenya in November 2023.