The draft resolution– which was endorsed by UN Member States and will become a legally binding agreement by 2024– was sealed when Espen Barth Eide, the Minister of Climate and the Environment for Norway and the president of UNEA, brought down a recycled plastic gavel.
The gavel, produced by Nzambi Matee, a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Young Champion of the Earth, was made using recycled plastic bottle tops from the Dandora landfill in Nairobi. At the end of the assembly the gavel was gifted to UNEP by Norway.
“The meeting gavel is a symbol of circular economy, stakeholder engagement, multilateral cooperation and is a testament to the historical decision at UNEA-5.2 to end plastic pollution,” said Gunnar Andreas Holm, Norway’s ambassador to Kenya.
The plastics agreement noted the rapidly increasing levels of plastic pollution and stressed the urgent need for global coordination, cooperation and governance. It comes at a time of exponential plastic production. Over 400 million tons of plastic is produced a year, a figure which is set to double by 2040. Yet only 12 per cent of this is incinerated and only 9 per cent is recycled. Every minute the equivalent of a garbage truck of rubbish enters our oceans.
Inger Andersen, the Executive Director of UNEP, said the agreement was monumental and could be transformational. It was, she said, the most significant international multilateral environment deal since the Paris Agreement.
The gavel, which when brought down signified the endorsement of the resolution, was made using technology developed by Matee. Matee, the Young Champion of the Earth, is also the founder of Gjenge Makers Ltd, a sustainable building company that uses recycled plastic waste to produce pavers for the building trade. Her company provides sustainable and affordable building options in Kenya.