Small Islands states urge world leaders to take action against plastics


World leaders should take action to protect small island nations from “choking on plastics.”

This was said by Small Islands States during the Global Plastics Treaty negotiations in Paris.

At the same time, island nations such as Palau urged world leaders to prioritize island nations that are facing a triple risk – climate change, increasing sea levels, and the scourge of plastic pollution.

Permanent Representative of Palau to the United Nations, Ilana Seid, said the amount of plastics floating in the country’s ocean is a threat.

“The magnitude of plastic floating in our oceans is a real threat today to Palau’s major economies – tourism and fishery – and the health of our people. Ocean plastic is extremely degraded and is difficult and, at times, impossible to recycle. It also degrades into microplastics that cannot be collected,” she said.

She said world leaders should come up with a treaty that will phase out plastic production and ban manufacturing plastics that harm the oceans.

“To really, truly tackle plastic pollution, solutions that reduce the use of plastic are critical. A strong and comprehensive Global Plastic Treaty that caps and rapidly phases down global plastic production and bans the manufacture and use of unnecessary, avoidable problematic plastic items are vital for protecting our ocean nations,’ she added.

Grenada is among the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) which are leading the charge for the UN Plastics Treaty in Paris.

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, and with plastic production increasing and set to double by 2030, SIDS are worried that the crisis will 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, Kerryne James, meanwhile said Grenada’s economic prosperity relies on the 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, for their part, said SIDS hardly produce plastics, but without global policy change, “they will choke on the plastic pollution arriving on their shores.”

“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.”

“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.