World leaders will come together online and in Nairobi, Kenya, next week, in what is described as a “critical moment” in progress towards the first-ever global treaty to combat plastic waste. Inger Andersen, director of the UN Environment Programme, said an agreement at the UN environment assembly could be the most important multilateral pact since the Paris climate accord in 2015.

Public disgust and impatience over the growing mountain of plastic waste have led to an unprecedented “degree of focus” that could see member states agreeing on a blueprint for a legally binding treaty to control plastics “from source to sea”, she said.

A key goal of the fifth UN environment assembly, from 28 February to 2 March, is to thrash out broad terms for a global agreement on plastic pollution and to form an intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) to broker a final deal. If member states can agree on a framework, the INC would then negotiate a final treaty to be signed.

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