LONDON, England – In a move to bolster treaty negotiations for an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the UK government through the department of environment, food and rural affairs have convened a training programme for Commonwealth government officials.
This training comes ahead of the third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution (INC-3) scheduled to take place in Nairobi in November 2023.
The training, which is part of the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance, an action group championed by the UK and Vanuatu under the Commonwealth Blue Charter, saw the participation of 55 officials and negotiators from 18 Commonwealth countries. The programme is designed to equip Commonwealth government officials with the knowledge, experience, and confidence they need to effectively support their governments during the negotiations of the international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment.
Dr Nick Hardman-Mountford, head of Oceans and Natural Resources at the Commonwealth Secretariat remarked:
“As countries seek to address the escalating challenges of plastic pollution, it is critical that our Commonwealth members are equipped with the relevant knowledge and skills to meaningfully participate. This training underscores our dedication to fostering inclusive, informed and impactful negotiations, ensuring that our collective voice resonates in the global arena”.
A spokesperson from the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) added:
“The UK, as a proud co-champion of the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance, is dedicated to ensuring that our collective response to plastic pollution is both robust and effective. This training is a crucial step in that direction as negotiations continue to develop a new international legally binding instrument to tackle plastic pollution.”
The training has provided an introduction to treaties and their negotiations, covering the structure, legal implications, and operational aspects of treaties. Practical tips for negotiating in various situations, such as in plenary sessions, regional groups, contact groups, and through bilateral meetings have also been taught.
The training not only enhances government officials’ understanding of the intricacies of treaty negotiations but also empowers them with practical skills to navigate complex diplomatic scenarios. By fostering a collaborative environment, the training promotes shared learning and strengthens the collective voice of the Commonwealth in global discussions on environmental challenges.
The Commonwealth Blue Charter
The Commonwealth Blue Charter is an agreement by all 56 countries to work together to address shared ocean challenges through country-led Action Groups focused on 10 key ocean issues: marine plastic pollution, coral reef protection, mangrove restoration, climate change, ocean acidification, ocean observation, marine protected areas, sustainable aquaculture, sustainable coastal fisheries and the sustainable blue economy.
Over the past few years, the Secretariat has ramped up efforts to support members virtually, through knowledge exchange webinars, virtual dialogues and training. This training was supported by the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation.