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Pushing Out Plastic: Lessons for the UNEA In Drafting Its Newest Environmental Agreement

Updated: Mar 18


By: Carrigan E. English


Climate change, commonly understood through greenhouse gas emissions, is a multi-faceted environmental threat. However, the production, use, and improper disposal of plastics is quickly becoming another concerning form of pollution, as its impacts destroy ecosystems

and pose a major health hazard. With plastics engrained in society, however, the question arises of how to minimize these effects and turn the world away from dependency. The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) responded to this issue by adopting Resolution 5/14, which called for a “multilateral environmental agreement” (MEA) regulating plastics pollution.

Due to the importance of passing a binding agreement of this magnitude, the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) must ratify an obligatory agreement that will incentivize many countries to join. This Note seeks to assist the INC in fulfilling this task by drawing upon lessons from previous MEAs. This Note examines three international environmental agreements, pinpoints issues during and after the ratification process, and makes recommendations based on these “lessons.” With the severity of the issues stemming from plastics pollution, it is imperative for the UNEA to draft an agreement that will achieve long-term substantive success.

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