National Environment Service’s Tohoa Puna delivering the opening statement on behalf of the Cook Islands in Uruguay this week. The Cooks delegation of four is led by Halatoa Fua, director of National Environment Service. SPREP/22113015
An emotional plea made by the Cook Islands to over 190 countries gathered to negotiate a new treaty on plastic pollution was met with strong applause in Uruguay this week.
First session of the International Negotiating Committee to develop a legally
binding agreement on plastic pollution is now underway with expectations for a
new treaty to be finalised by the end of 2024.
Cook Islands was clear in its call for a legally binding instrument that
addresses the full life cycle of plastics – starting from sourcing,
upstreaming, mid-streaming and down-streaming.
my islands are overwhelmed with a plastic crisis that we cannot manage. We have
overflowing waste management facilities, full of toxic waste like plastics that
we bury, burn or live with,” stated Tohoa Puna of the Cook Islands as she
addressed the main plenary.
shores of our remote islands are full of washed-up plastic waste from all over
the world – we are the new colonies of others’ waste.”
started the negotiations of a new internationally legally binding agreement,
the Cook Islands supports the development of a specific convention where core
obligations and some control measures appear in the body of the instrument,
giving the governing body the possibility to be adapted in the future
throughout adjustment, amendments and protocols.
island nation also promotes non-toxic circular economy approaches to addressing
plastics ensuring equitable, adequate means to participate in the design of the
instrument and its implementation, including support for capacity building and
Cook Islands believes this should be a priority for Pacific Small Islands
Developing States on the front line of the plastics pollution crisis.
continue to receive plastics in almost every product, toxic or non-toxic,
harming our environment, our ecosystems, our food security and our health and
wellbeing,” presented Puna.
am here today because I believe in this global treaty as our last hope to end
plastic pollution. I believe that you will do the right thing and do what is
right. I am here to ask that we all work together.”
is everywhere with the amount of marine litter and plastic pollution continuing
to grow rapidly. The amount of plastics
estimated to be in the oceans is around 75 – 199 million tons.
accounts for at least 85 per cent of the total marine waste with the equivalent
of one rubbish truck of plastic waste being dumped into our ocean each
minute. Approximately 7 of the 9.2
billion tonnes of plastic that was produced from 1950 to 2017, became plastic
waste ending up in landfills or dumped.
the Cook Islands, an island nation made up of 15 remote small islands lying
within an Exclusive Economic Zone of close to 2 million square kilometres, the
newly proposed legally binding agreement is crucial.
ended her statement with a plea to all countries present, asking them to keep
up the momentum to protect our future generations.
conclusion, I stand not only as a Cook Islander I do so as represent but as a
youth and a woman, fighting for our remote communities. We must not wait until
we have killed off all our marine life, replaced by plastic. We must act now
and make bold steps to end plastic pollution.”
Cook Islands is represented at the INC1 by a delegation of four led by Halatoa
Fua, director of National Environment Service.
first Intergovernmental negotiating committee to develop an international
legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine
environment is taking place in Punta del Este, Uruguay from 28 November–2
Pacific Islands are represented by Cook Islands, Federated States of
Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the
Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu through the
support of the Government of Australia and the United Nations.
are supported by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme
(SPREP) with financial assistance from the Government of Australia. SPREP is working with partners the Office of
the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, University of Newcastle, Environmental
Investigation Agency, Centre for International Environmental Law, University of
Wollongong, WWF and Massey University.