The Nairobi agreement to forge a global treaty was described by UNEP’s Ms Andersen as a “triumph” by planet earth over plastics. Steve Fletcher, professor of ocean policy and economy at the University of Portsmouth, told Back to Blue it was not a surprise move. For the last seven to eight years, he says, there have been increasing efforts to tackle the plastics crisis with successive resolutions through the UN Environment Assembly.
An international deal matters because plastics are a cross-border problem as waste works its way through rivers and across coastlines. Luis Vayas Valdivieso, vice minister of foreign affairs at Ecuador’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tells Back to Blue that his country has taken national legislative and policy steps to reduce plastic pollution, cracking down on single-use plastics and promoting the circular economy, but that is not enough.
“We have north and south currents coming into the Galapágos Islands, which are bringing in plastic pollution,” he says. As one of the world’s most biodiverse nations, the negotiations are “very important” for Ecuador. The country is working with regional partners to tackle the problem, including an agreement on a marine corridor with Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica and similar discussions with Peru and Chile. But in the long run, he explains, “we need a global solution for a global problem.”