From policy to practice: training for effective plastics treaty negotiations for Commonwealth countries

How the governments of the Commonwealth and its nations are working closely together to create a greener future.

Training for a better future

In preparation for key negotiations around an international legal instrument on plastic pollution, particularly in marine environments, the Commonwealth Secretariat, in collaboration UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Center for Political and Diplomatic Studies convened training for government officials. The initiative was held ahead of the fourth session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Plastic Pollution (INC-4) held in Ottawa, Canada in April 2024.

Training organized under Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance Action Group, The joint success of the UK and Vanuatu under the Commonwealth Blue Charter saw the participation of 39 officials and negotiators representing 19 Commonwealth countries. The primary objective of the program is to improve the capacity of countries to effectively engage in negotiations and to contribute meaningfully to the negotiations.

How power can lead to change

Dr Nick Hartman-Mountford, Head of Oceans and Natural Resources at the Commonwealth Secretariat, emphasized the importance of equipping government officials with the necessary expertise:

„As we face the challenges of marine environmental degradation, it is essential to strengthen our Commonwealth of Nations’ knowledge and skills to tackle plastic pollution. This exercise underscores our commitment to fostering informed and impactful dialogue for cleaner, healthier oceans.”

A representative from Defra reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to combating plastic pollution:

„As a co-champion of the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance, the UK is committed to leading global efforts against plastic pollution. This exercise It demonstrates the international community’s commitment to building a path to protect our oceans for future generations.”

Training in Contracts and Negotiations

Introduces training contracts and their negotiation, covering structural, legal and operational dimensions. Participants also received practical guidance on negotiating strategies applicable to a variety of situations, including plenary sessions, regional groups, contact groups and bilateral meetings.

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Notably, the training enhanced the participants’ understanding of the nuances inherent in treaty negotiations and provided them with the practical skills necessary to navigate complex diplomatic landscapes. By fostering a collaborative learning environment, the exercise sought to enhance the Commonwealth’s collective capacity to recommend effective solutions to pressing environmental challenges.

Commonwealth Blue Charter

The Commonwealth Blue Charter The agreement is for all 56 countries to work together to address shared ocean challenges through country-led action groups that focus on ten key ocean issues: marine plastic pollution, coral reef protection, mangrove restoration, climate change, ocean acidification, ocean monitoring, and marine security. regions, sustainable aquaculture, sustainable coastal fisheries and sustainable blue economy.

Over the past few years, the Secretariat has intensified its efforts to support members through knowledge exchange webpages, virtual dialogues and training. The exercise was supported by the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation.

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