The world has taken its biggest step yet to curb the plastic pollution crisis.
The United Nations said Wednesday that representatives of 175 countries have agreed to develop a first-of-its-kind global treaty to restrict plastic waste. The resolution followed negotiations over the past week at the fifth session of the U.N. Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya.
The treaty aims to tackle one of the most pressing environmental issues the world faces. The sheer pervasiveness of plastic waste has been widely recognized in recent years, with plastic debris identified everywhere from Arctic snow to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest point in the ocean. Microplastics, tiny pieces of the material, have also been found in the digestive tracts of a range of species, from fish to seabirds, and even humans.
The U.N. said member states agreed to begin crafting a legally binding international agreement that addresses the “full lifecycle of plastic,” from its production to its disposal.
Inger Andersen, the executive director of the U.N. Environment Program, called the resolution, “the most significant environmental multilateral deal” since the Paris Agreement, a landmark accord signed by 196 countries in 2015 that aims to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
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