70 companies and financial institutions call for a UN treaty against plastic pollution | Asset owners

More than 70 companies and financial institutions have signed a petition calling on the United Nations (UN) to initiate a legally binding global treaty on plastic pollution, marking the strongest bid from leading companies to stop plastic pollution in its tracks in recent times. years.

In a first for the business community, the companies, which include UK-based Local Pensions Partnership Investments, BNP Paribas Asset Management and Fortune 500 companies such as Nestlé and Coca-Cola Company, have signed a trade manifesto, calling to an “ambitious policy”. UN Treaty”.

The manifesto said the new treaty must “set a high common standard of action for all countries to meet and drive the transition to a circular economy for plastics globally”.

New policies needed

Signatories also highlighted three major points they wanted the treaty to address.

The first was that the treaty should include upstream and downstream policies to keep plastics in the economy and out of the environment and prevent the production of plastics by fossil fuels.

Second, the petition said the treaty should set out clear direction that would align governments, businesses and society to understand how plastic pollution is created and a common approach to solving the problem.

For businesses and investors, it would create a level playing field and a set of standardized or complementary solutions that would “make a circular economy work in practice and at scale,” the petition writes.

Finally, the manifesto also stated that a governance structure should be put in place to ensure country participation and adherence to the treaty.

This would also include investments that would build innovation, infrastructure and skills in countries that need international support.

‘It’s no longer about whether we need a plastic pollution treaty, it’s more about what that treaty needs to look like to tackle the plastic pollution crisis that still rages today’ today,” World Wildlife Fund International Chief Executive Marco Lambertini said in a statement. .

The petition also urges UN members to set up an intergovernmental negotiating committee, which will then draft the treaty.

To this end, the signatories are pushing for the establishment of the committee to take place at the next United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2), which will be held from February 28 to March 2 this year in Nairobi, Kenya. , according to the United Nations Environment Program website. .

ESG Strategy

Preventing plastic pollution can be part of asset managers’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies. For BNP Paribas Asset Management, for example, signing the petition is part of its biodiversity strategy.

“We believe global investors like us have a key role to play in supporting cutting-edge initiatives to tackle plastic pollution, one of the greatest human pressures on marine biodiversity,” said Paul Milon, Head of from BNP Paribas Asset Management in Asia-Pacific to AsianInvestor.

“While a number of voluntary initiatives have emerged to tackle this problem in recent years, we believe that a global treaty based on a circular economy approach to tackling plastic pollution is needed to tackle plastic pollution globally and in a coordinated way, helping to dramatically accelerate efforts to end plastic pollution,” he added.

The company has recognized that plastic pollution has put pressure on ecosystems through soil contamination, ocean pollution and has made its way up the human food chain.

“A study commissioned by the WWF estimated that each week we consume the equivalent of 5g of plastic, the weight of a credit card. Without meaningful action to tackle plastic pollution and move to a circular economy, there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050,” he said.

how it started

The business case for a treaty emerged from a 2020 report by international charity The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, WWF and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

This report focused on how a treaty should stop the problem of plastic pollution before it escalates, set global standards and help all countries and industries play their part.

“Plastic pollution doesn’t stop at borders, it’s a global problem that requires businesses and governments to work together on global solutions,” said Andrew Morlet, CEO of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

WWF agreed that cooperation between the government and business sectors is crucial.

“These companies are asking governments to agree on a legally binding set of global regulations and standards, including explicit recognition of the need to reduce the production and use of virgin plastic,” Lambertini said.

While there is a resolution for a negotiation mandate to set up a new treaty in UNEA 5.2 by a group of countries, led by Rwanda and Peru., there are fears that other states will support a less ambitious mandate.

The resolution counts the European Union, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Kenya and the Philippines as co-sponsors, but misses some of the biggest plastic polluting states in the world such as China, Indonesia and Thailand.

source: Statistical

Additional reporting by Natalie Koh

Marianne R. Winn