Enhancing the Role of Local and Regional Governments in the Global (Plastic) Waste Crisis

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During a high-level event celebration, co-organised by the Geneva Environement Network, together with Türkiye and others, the Global Cities Hub emphasized that LRGs stand at the forefront of combating air, plastic and other forms of pollution and its detrimental effects on the environment and public health. While Member States play a primary role in shaping rules, norms and their implementation, it is imperative to recognize that they cannot implement them on their own. The substantial contribution of LRGs to address this global challenge is absolutely crucial!

Various ongoing multilateral processes acknowledge the impact of pollution. Notably, there are negotiations on a new plastic pollution treaty (INC4 – starting 23 of April in Ottawa), alongside intergovernmental debates related to Conventions in different Conference of the Parties (COPs)on biodiversity, waste and climate change. Softer instruments, such as resolutions, also complement this work at the international level.

These multilateral processes serve to either raise awareness or provide frameworks to negotiate new treaties, protocols, or agreements under the main convention. However, these forums involve central governments ONLY and often fail to adequately acknowledge the role of LRGs. Even more flexible instruments born in diplomatic processes such as the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA)’s resolutions—potentially evolving into conventions with time—on air pollution and other forms of pollution often fail to adequately acknowledge the role of LRGs.

Despite recognizing the critical need for cooperation with LRGs, States often hesitate to include references to them in legal documents. Yet, it is obvious that States will have to heavily rely on LRGs in order to effectively implement the internationally negotiated rules. Read the statement here.

Learn more about forthcoming plastic pollution treaty negotiations also here.