Recap day 6 - INC-3 'The one where the views were not reflected’.

After an early evening on Friday night – meaning the session was closed at 21:30 rather than 22:00. Saturday began with high hopes and ambitions to ensure all contact groups would be able to finish before the evening’s originally planned Plenary which was later moved to today (19/11).

The morning started bright and sunny on the 6th day of negotiations. View from the walk to the UNEP negotiating rooms. Photo: Emily Cowan

Saturday involved all contact groups meeting for the final time before moving to INC-4 next year. The remaining meeting slots were dedicated to ensuring that the new compilation texts for the parts of the zero draft included all member states’ preferences and that the streamlined text was correctly represented. By the end, to the extent that compilations were available, and streamlining had taken place, progress was made on many parts of the zero-draft text, and much work for the secretariat and co-facilitators had been done the previous night and during the day on Saturday in preparation for the cancelled plenary.

With a relatively low-stress morning in respective to the contact groups, the afternoon and evening sessions proved to be quite the opposite with difficult deliberations stemming in CG3 where numerous member states were unable to accept the text presented to them to be reflected in the final plenary today. CG 1 facilitators informed delegates in the evening yesterday that they were able to improve the zero-draft text from 13 pages to 73 pages. It will be interesting to follow if this is so much an improved draft or a way to delay the treaty by becoming overwhelmed with text to negotiate at INC-4.

Contact group 1 - (10:20 – 12:00) & (15:00 – 16:30) & (20:20 – 21:00) & (21:30 - 00:27)

Unlike the previous days this week, CG1 advanced rapidly through their discussions – especially in the morning and early afternoon ensuring all views were correctly reflected in the objectives text, and elements from the obligations on primary plastic polymers (PPP). Note the negotiations on PPP see a major divergence between member states we like to call this the elephant in the room - all can expect PPP to be delaying negotiations from here on out. There is a split opinion down the middle between parties who want to see PPP in the treaty with legally binding provisions and those who refuse to have it even mentioned. A few more objectives were reviewed in the afternoon session only to have the evening session halted when a group of likeminded countries made the bold statement they would refuse to discuss anymore until the issues in CG3 were resolved.

Contact group 2 - (10:00 – 13:00)
CG2 advanced rapidly and was finished by lunch with most member states pleased with how their co-facilitators reflected their initial views in the draft text to present today at plenary. The group went through the remainder of the sections that had been compiled with input and proposals from members the last few days, and suggestions for mergers and streamlining of text to avoid identical sets of proposals for example, were also taken care of throughout the morning session. An agreement was also reached that the co-facilitators would streamline the remainder of the text and upload both the streamlined clean version but also the version with track changes. This latter was important to diplomats so that when they returned home, they could prepare for negotiations based on the clean text but could also refer back to the original to make sure that their text proposals had been properly incorporated.

Contact group 3 - (15:00 – 19:00) & (21:30 – 00:05)

Contrary to being one of the more agreeable CGs throughout the week, today brought with it a full halt threatening to stop negotiations for some member states. This contact group focuses on the beginning and end of the future treaty (preamble, scope, definitions, principles and institutional arrangements), and could not agree until late in the evening on how co-facilitators handled the updated draft text. In the end member state delegates came together to ensure all views would be reflected in the text presented to the plenary today. Regarding intersessional work, although many delegates would like to meet to develop the draft treaty between now and INC-4 it was decided this was not a viable way forward unless all member states were present.

Contact group three discussion late into Saturday evening on how to move forward.


Due to the need for contact groups to continue negotiations throughout the day on Saturday the planned plenary to recap progress before concluding the session on Sunday was cancelled. Today brings with it the final day of the third round of negotiations on the future plastics treaty. It is expected that it will be ‘easy like a Sunday morning’ as it is one of the shortest days ending at 18:00 and including only plenary sessions which you can follow along here.

Our researchers are on their way back to Europe this evening and look forward to updating you on the final day and anticipations for INC-4 come Monday morning.