Small Islands will “choke on plastic” if urgent action is not taken through the UN Plastics Treaty

Small Island States are going to “choke on plastic” if urgent action is not taken to protect them. Reflecting on a week of slow progress, at critical UN Plastics Treaty negotiations in Paris, there is a call for world leaders to prioritise island nations which are facing a triple risk – climate change, increasing sea levels and the scourge of plastic pollution.

Grenada is among the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) which are leading the charge for the UN Plastics Treaty to be co-designed to protect some of the most at-risk states on the planet.

Many SIDS depend on a healthy ocean and coastlines for economic and societal wellbeing and have limited capacity to manage waste. The initiative is backed by Peter Thomson, the UN Special Envoy for the Ocean, and international experts including Common Seas and Searious Business.

World leaders have been meeting for the Second Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-2) to negotiate the fine print of the UN Plastics Treaty. But with plastic production increasing, and set to double by 2030, the crisis facing island nations is only set to get worse.

Peter Thomson, UN Special Envoy for the Ocean, said: “By convening the community of Small Island Developing States, we can ensure the world listens to their needs. The trident of risks – climate change, rising sea levels and plastic – is an existential threat.

“We urgently need to take action and co-design a UN Plastics Treaty which protects those countries which are at the sharp end. A Treaty that works for SIDS, works for the world.”

Grenada’s Minister of Climate Resilience, The Environment and Renewable Energy, Hon. Kerryne James, said: “As a small island nation, Grenada's economic prosperity relies on our pristine natural environment—from tourism to the fishing and marine industries.

“We need concerted actions to combat plastic pollution, secure the livelihoods of our people, and protect our precious marine biodiversity for the future.”

Common Seas CEO, Jo Royle, said: “Small Island Developing States are stewards for around a third of the ocean, caring for some of the world’s most precious habitats. They hardly produce any plastic themselves but without global policy change, they will choke on the plastic pollution arriving on their shores.

“With vested interests at play INC-2 has made slow progress, so it is critical that island nations continue to raise their collective voice and set out their requirements for a high-ambition treaty which includes a legally binding cap on plastic production.”

Searious Business CEO, Willemijin Peeters said: “Small island states can only achieve so much on our own; we also urgently need the international community to take action to stem the flow of plastic pollution upstream.”

Find out more about our work with SIDS and the UN Plastic Treaty.

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