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Thank you, Kathleen, for that kind introduction. Greetings to my fellow panelists and participants in today’s event.

I’m honored to join you to discuss efforts to launch the negotiation of a potential global agreement to combat plastic pollution.

Plastic pollution is a global problem that affects the environment, food security, maritime transportation, tourism, economic stability, resource management, and potentially human health.

Plastic pollution, in particular ocean plastic pollution, does not respect political boundaries and addressing it requires international cooperation. It spreads to every place on the planet, from the belly of an animal in remote Antarctica to the highest mountains in the

Himalayas to the deepest trenches of the ocean. It is a major global challenge that will continue to get worse unless we take ambitious action now.

That is why the United States supports launching negotiations on a global agreement at the next UN Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2).

UNEA 5.2 is an opportunity to mobilize immediate global action to address ocean plastic pollution and find innovative solutions.

We appreciate the work that has gone into the two draft resolutions from Peru and Rwanda, and from Japan. While the United States has not endorsed either resolution, I believe there is a great deal in common to the two approaches and aspects of both that can lead to a strong outcome.

Most importantly, they both would establish an intergovernmental negotiating committee to develop a legally binding agreement considering the full lifecycle of plastics.

The United States strongly supports launching these negotiations at UNEA 5.2, and we have to do everything we can to ensure we are successful there.

We want to ensure that a global agreement is ambitious and focuses on finding solutions that work. We need a high ambition “bottom-up” approach that will encourage countries to identify innovative solutions across the full life cycle of plastics.

It’s crucial that such an agreement provide flexibility for countries to contribute to a common objective through ambitious national action plans and effective country-driven approaches. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this global problem.

We need to build on the enthusiasm expressed by stakeholders in the private sector, civil society, and sub-national governments to address plastic pollution.

We are interested in exploring innovative mechanisms to build on stakeholders’ current actions and encouraging them to set an ambitious action agenda that could support implementation of a global agreement to combat ocean plastic pollution.

We must also ensure that an agreement to combat plastic pollution includes a financial mechanism to help countries most in need. That way, we can realize ambitious activities that directly support the implementation of the agreement.

The United States is fortunate to have strong interest from a diverse set of stakeholders to tackle this problem and we encourage their continued engagement. Combating plastic pollution in an effective manner will require collaborative efforts from all of us.

Thank you for having me here today along with other panelists who are playing such an important role making sure the world moves forward by launching these negotiations.

We are at a point of great urgency and opportunity. I look forward to leading the U.S. delegation to UNEA 5.2 as we strive for a healthier ocean and a healthier planet.

U.S. Department of State

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