Home NewsInternational PM Ngirente Rallies UN Environment Assembly On Plastic Pollution Action

PM Ngirente Rallies UN Environment Assembly On Plastic Pollution Action

by Daniel Sabiiti
8:49 pm

Dr.  Édouard Ngirente addressing the UNEA-6 in Nairobi, Kenya

The Prime Minister of Rwanda has told the 6th United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) to speed up the need to adopt effective, inclusive, and sustainable multilateral actions to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

Dr.  Édouard Ngirente attended the 6th Session of the UN Environment Assembly held in Nairobi Kenya this February 29, 2024 where he represented Paul Kagame, the President of the Republic of Rwanda.

The High-level segment was opened with statements by Heads of State, key dignitaries including ministers of environment and other leaders from more than 180 nations, heads of delegation among others.

With a focus on strengthening environmental multilateralism to address the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss and pollution, this year’s Assembly will be negotiating resolutions on issues ranging from nature-based solutions and highly hazardous pesticides to land degradation and drought, and environmental aspects of minerals and metals.

Ngirente said that while the assembly agrees that addressing the current global environmental challenges, requires efficient and collective international cooperation, it is also an opportunity to showcase the power of multilateralism to deliver timely, inclusive, science-based solutions to the planet’s gravest environmental threats.

UNEA-6 in progress

The PM said that building on the positive impact of UNEA over many years, the task ahead is to align all contributions of which the 6th assembly’s decisions will determine.

“One of the lessons we have acquired during the decades’ long journey of enforcing various environmental agreements is that national efforts alone cannot save the environment from this ever growing pollution,” Ngirente said.

Ngirente said that that Rwanda strongly backs and stands with members of the High Ambition Coalition to call for a global target to reduce plastic production to sustainable levels, along with a dedicated fund to deliver the means of implementation.

“We must carry forward the “Nairobi spirit” that was present at the 5th UNEA and build on the resolutions and commitments made during that critical session, including the plastics treaty resolution co-authored by Peru and Rwanda,” Ngirente said.

Ngirente called for support in the Rwanda and Peru’s joint candidacy to host the diplomatic conference of the Plastic Treaty, known as “KigaLima,” which was announced in November 2023 and aimed at speeding up progress towards a life free from plastic pollution.

In August 2022, Norway and Rwanda, joined by 18 other countries, launched the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution by 2040.

The first negotiating meeting (INC-1) took place in Punta del Este in Uruguay in November and December. During the meeting, more than 145 countries backed calls for strong global rules to stop plastic pollution.

As of 2023, the first draft of the global plastic pollution treaty ‘zero draft’ was published setting the stage for negotiations at 3rd Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-3) in November last year.

Plastic production will increase by 40% in the next 10 years. If we don’t do anything, oceans will carry more plastic than fish (by weight) by 2050-the United Nations warns

This month, Somalia became the latest African country to ban single-use plastics, potentially boosting the growing campaign to limit the use of non-biodegradable packaging material in the war against global warming.

Rwanda and Kenya have completely banned single-use plastics, while Uganda and Tanzania have also technically banned the plastics but have struggled with implementing the ban as well as the smuggling of the carrier bags between neighboring countries.

The UN Environment Assembly is the world’s highest decision-making body on the environment – its membership includes all 193 UN Member States.

It meets biennially to set priorities for global environmental policies and develop international environmental law; decisions and resolutions then taken by Member States at the Assembly also define the work of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Leila Benali, president of the 6th session of the UN Environment Assembly said that the session will consolidate the success of the previous ones and focus on its core mission but affirmed that multilateral cooperation and international solidarity are crucial.

“Yes, the multilateral system is under unprecedented pressure and yes, we can rise to the challenge to deliver,” Benali said, citing a call by King Mohammed VI of Morocco at the recent COP28 in Dubai to urgently reform the multilateral system and development financing.

On the need to ban plastics, which was a key outcome of the previous session, Benali said that it is only possible to implement if countries and agencies stop the blame game and finger pointing.

Leila Benali, president of the 6th session of the UN Environment Assembly

“We have the opportunity to leave our mark this year too in committing to ambitious actions on a range of environmental challenges. We must drive inclusive and multilateral action and focus on our energy on key incredible solutions,” Benali said.

Over 100 countries and cities now have a full or partial ban on single-use plastic bags. These include Australia, Bangladesh, China, Canada, India (in New Delhi), Taiwan, France, Jamaica, Zimbabwe, Morocco, Colombia German city of Hamburg and some states in the US- Seattle, New York among others.

Benali noted that this should not be hard because the good news is that there a good example to emulate from governments, youth and civil society to protect environment and human health and lives.

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