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Ministers urged to advocate Africa’s Position on Plastic Treaty

Ministers of Environment from Africa’s 54 States have been urged not to compromise in the negotiations for a treaty that would cap plastic production at the source and keep oil and gas used in the extraction of plastics in the ground.

Greenpeace Africa Communication and Story Manager, Hellen Kahaso Dena, said that the 19th session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), taking place from September 14 to 18, under the theme Seizing opportunities and enhancing collaboration to address environmental challenges in Africa, provides a platform for strengthening Africa’s collective engagement in the global environmental agenda, including in the International Negotiating Committee (INC), to develop a legally binding global plastic treaty.

“As Africa’s Ministers of Environment converge in Addis Ababa, Greenpeace Africa calls for AMCEN to urge African Member States to present a united front in the negotiations and ensure a Treaty that is centred on justice and firmly rooted in human rights. A Treaty that will reduce inequality and prioritise human health,” said Dena.

Governments must deliver this Treaty to meaningfully tackle the plastic pollution crisis that communities across Africa are fighting against,” said Dena.

She explained that from raw material extraction, production, and disposal, plastic pollution negatively impacts human rights as it accelerates social injustice and environmental degradation of ecosystems that are essential to African livelihoods and reinforces the harms and inequalities brought about by the climate crisis.

“We urge the African Group of Negotiators to call for a strong Treaty that prioritises a just transition to sustainable livelihoods for workers and other affected communities across the plastics value chain. The Treaty must support re-use and re-fill business models, taking into account the interests of waste pickers and Indigenous peoples, while utilising traditional knowledge,” added Dena.

She said that plastic production and climate change are inextricably linked, with over 99 percent of plastics being made from fossil fuels.

“Plastic production is a major driver of the climate crisis and accounts for approximately 3.4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Cutting plastic production and ending single-use plastic is, therefore, in line with the goal of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees,” said Dena.

She highlighted that the proponents of single-use plastics are pushing for more plastic production and exportation into Africa. This could undermine the progress made by African countries in combating plastic pollution.

Dena said that collaboration among Africa’s Member States is key to addressing these challenges and bringing an end to this illegal and neo-colonialist way of dealing with plastic waste from the Global North.

“With 34 governments having passed a law banning single-use plastics and implemented or passed a law with the intention of implementation, Africa has already shown great leadership in the quest to deal with plastic pollution on the continent. We expect AMCEN to urge all Member States to adopt a progressive plan that supports ambitious goals towards a strong global plastic treaty that will solve the plastic pollution crisis and the added burden of plastic waste dumping in Africa,” said Dena.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a 

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