Global governance of plastics and associated chemicals

In March 2022, the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) adopted resolution 5/14 entitled “End plastic pollution: towards an international legally binding instrument”. The resolution called for the Executive Director of UNEP to convene an intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. The resolution reaffirmed the importance of cooperation, coordination and complementarity among relevant regional and international conventions and instruments, with due respect for their respective mandates to prevent plastic pollution and its related risks to human health and adverse effects on human well-being and the environment. To achieve safe and sustainable circular economy for plastics, with a primary focus on source prevention, it is crucial to minimize the release of harmful substances into the environment and prevent human exposure.

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Global governance of plastics and associated chemicals (Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, 2023. UNEP/CHW.16/INF/58–UNEP/FAO/RC/COP.11/INF/41–UNEP/POPS/COP.11/INF/59)

Overview of the report

The global governance of plastics and associated chemicals encompasses various multilateral agreements. This report presents the first comprehensive mapping of the existing global governance landscape for plastics and associated chemicals. The mapping includes both binding and voluntary measures adopted at the global level that explicitly address plastics and chemicals known to be found in plastics, as well as those measures that may indirectly cover plastics and associated chemicals. The report discusses opportunities to enhance the governance of plastics based on globally agreed principles and approaches, particularly those outlined in UNEA Resolutions.

The report emphasizes that the current governance landscape is inadequate to achieve the ambition for ending plastic pollution. It suggests potential mechanisms to close the governance gaps across the entire lifecycle of plastics and associated chemicals, such as strengthening existing multilateral environmental agreements and introducing new measures within the global plastics agreement. The report also examines the role of possible criteria as control measures to address the governance gap. This includes criteria for eliminating chemicals and polymers of concern used in plastics, drawing on examples from existing frameworks, as well as the innovative concept of incorporating criteria for the sustainable design of plastics, with non-toxicity as a central criterion.

This independent report was commissioned by the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions and produced by the University of Wollongong, Australia. It has benefitted from valuable expert input from governments, academia, non-governmental organizations, secretariats of multilateral environmental agreements, UN bodies and the private sector. The report was made possible through the generous support of the Government of Norway.


For more information, please contact the Secretariat: Kei Ohno (