Image depicting a sea turtle with a plastic bag wrapped around its head, illustrating concerns over conflicts of interest in the High Ambition Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty. Text overlays include "High Ambition Coalition (HAC)" and "Conflicts of interest in global plastics treaty negotiation."

Concerns over UAE’s role in the HAC for a Global Plastics Treaty

Posted By: Petra Al Aridi 1 Comment

UAE in the HAC letter

To: High Ambition Coalition co-chairs

Tuesday, 16 April 2024

Subject: No Ambition with UAE in the HAC

Dear HAC co-chairs,

Ahead of the upcoming fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to advance a plastic treaty (INC-4) in Ottawa, Canada, and following the publication of your Member States Ministerial Statement the undersigned civil society organizations, want to express our gratitude to the co-chairs of the High Ambition Coalition (Coalition or HAC) for your important initiative to improve upon and defend the strongest possible measures in the future Global Plastics Treaty. The work undertaken by the HAC so far has demonstrated that there is an appetite across the globe for a robust treaty to address the full life cycle of plastic and plastic pollution. The growth of the Coalition over time is admirable and is evidence that when ambitious action is taken, others will join the call.

We also write to express concern with regard to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), whose membership in the Coalition presents potential conflicts of interest and runs the risk of diminishing the Coalition’s ambition and effectiveness. While we share the Coalition’s commitment to work with all Member States represented at the INC, we are concerned that the Coalition and the UAE have conflicting aims concerning petrochemical buildout and plastic production.

This concern is underlined by the fact that the UAE is a member of the Gulf Countries Council (GCC), a group whose members advocated for interventions that undermine the aims of the HAC at INC-3. The GCC does not support setting a global reduction target; instead, it advocates for national plans based on national conditions. Further, the GCC has taken an unequivocal position on avoiding the inclusion of any upstream measures on single-use plastics. The UAE did not dissociate itself from these statements. We additionally note that the UAE is the only member which did not support the Joint Ministerial Statement of the HAC to INC-3 or 4.

The UAE is a leading producer and exporter of the oil and gas feedstocks from which plastics are produced, and has announced national commitments to dramatically increase its production of oil and gas in the immediate future. The UAE is already a major exporter of petrochemical products, with ethylene polymers ranked as the UAE’s 6th largest export category in 2018. Despite the industry’s already massive scale in the country, the UAE has explicitly identified petrochemicals expansion as a key driver of the country’s future economic growth, including in The Abu Dhabi Economic Vision to 2030. To this end, the UAE is actively expanding its footprint and presence in the global production of plastics and petrochemicals, and is currently building what it intends to be the largest single-site polyolefins facility in the world. UAE is also expanding its global presence in the hydrocarbons sector through investments in petrochemical facilities in India and Austria and oil exploration and production in Egypt and Indonesia.

These plans put the UAE’s self-proclaimed national economic interests directly, explicitly, and significantly at odds with the High Ambition Coalition’s commitment to developing an ambitious, comprehensive, and legally binding agreement that addresses the full lifecycle of plastics.

We also draw attention to the statements made by UAE’s Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber during the run-up to COP28 that questioned the science around the need to reduce fossil fuels as part of global efforts to hold climate change to 1.5ºC, in accordance with the Paris Agreement. Though he later walked the statement back, the episode created a controversy that lingered over the entire negotiation. The controversy was exacerbated by his dual roles as COP President and head of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), which reportedly intended to use the COP for negotiating oil and gas deals.

Due to the above considerations, coupled with issues related to conflict of interest already causing concern within the broader plastics treaty negotiations, we respectfully request that, if they do not already exist beyond the option to ‘opt out’ of statements, mechanisms that safeguard the ambition upon which the HAC was founded be immediately instituted. Though the HAC is not itself a negotiating block, it is a space to convene like-minded countries to develop strategies to advance a collective global ambition — and this space must be protected from vested interests. The next two sessions of the INC are crucial for ensuring the entire life cycle of plastics is addressed within the treaty. The Coalition is a key player in maintaining the vision set forth in the original mandate to negotiate the plastics treaty — UNEA Resolution 5/14. The High Ambition Coalition may be the strongest guardian of the vision to address the full life cycle of plastics, and thus the root causes of the plastic pollution crisis. We must collectively stand guard against any efforts to weaken the ambition of the draft treaty text, including what might arise due to potential conflicts of interest among the Coalition members.

We are looking forward to your response.

Sincerely yours,


  1. Center for International Environmental Law (Global)
  2. Break Free From Plastic (Global)
  3. Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (Global)
  4. Center for Financial Accountability (India)
  5. MarViva Foundation (Costa Rica, Colombia and Panama)
  6. Fenceline Watch (United States)
  7. Environmental Investigation Agency (United Kingdom)
  8. Center for Coalfield Justice (United States)
  9. Environment and Social Development Organization-ESDO (Bangladesh)
  10. Asian Center for Environmental Health (Bangladesh)
  11. Plastic Change (Denmark)
  12. Center for Biological Diversity (United States and Mexico)
  13. Nipe Fagio (Tanzania)
  14. Between the Waters (United States)
  15. Gallifrey Foundation (Switzerland)
  16. Objectif Zéro Plastique (France)
  17. Everyday Plastic (UK)
  18. Community Action Against Plastic Waste (Global)
  19. Waterkeeper Alliance (United States, global)
  20. Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment (Armenia)
  21. Zero Waste Romania
  22. Plastic Free Future (United States)
  23. Friends of the Earth Canada
  24. Plastic Pollution Coalition (United States, Global)
  25. The Last Plastic Straw (United States, Global)
  26. OceanCare (Switzerland)
  27. Aotearoa Plastic Pollution Alliance (New Zealand)
  28. FoCo Trash Mob (United States)
  29. Recycle Hawai’i
  30. Pacific Ocean Litter Youth Project (Fiji)
  31. Zero Waste Society (Ukraine)
  32. Pan African Vision for the Environment (Nigeria)
  33. WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia
  34. Zero Waste Alliance Ukraine
  35. The Centre for Social Research and Development (Vietnam)
  36. Zero Waste Maldives
  37. Clean Up Nepal (Nepal)
  38. Trash Hero World (Global)
  39. Vietnam Zero Waste Alliance
  40. Green Korea United (Republic of Korea)
  41. Centre de Recherche et d’Education pour le Développement (Cameroon)
  42. Irrigation Training and Economic Empowerment Organization (Tanzania)
  43. Concern For Action in our Community (Ghana)
  44. Surfrider Foundation Europe
  45. Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Friends of the Earth)
  46. Consumers’ Association of Penang (Malaysia)
  47. Zero Waste Himalaya
  48. Nexus3 Foundation (Indonesia)
  49. Aliansi Zero Waste Indonesia (Indonesia)
  50. Eco Circular India Foundation (India)
  51. Samyukta Safai Jagaran (Nepal)
  52. Mother Earth Foundation Philippines
  53. BAN Toxics Philippines
  54. National Hawker Federation (India)
  55. Green Vientiane (Laos)
  56. War on Waste Negros Oriental (Philippines)
  57. Fair Resource Foundation (The Netherlands)
  58. Zero Waste France (France)
  59. Sustainable Environment Development Initiative  (Nigeria)
  60. Fundación El Árbol (Chile)
  61. Plastic Soup Foundation (The Netherlands)
  62. Red de Acción por los Derechos Ambientales (Chile)
  63. Fundación PlastiCo. Project (Ecuador)
  64. Fundación Lenga (Chile)
  65. Now! (Germany)
  66. Asociación Nacional de Recicladores ANR  (Colombia)
  67. Alianza Basura Cero (Chile)
  68. Asociación nacional de Recicladores de Chile (ANARCH)
  69. California Communities Against Toxics (United States)
  70. ACT Health Promotion (Brazil)
  71. Retorna (Spain)
  72. Texas Campaign for the Environment (United States)
  73. Taller Ecologista (Argentina)
  74. Colectivo Viento Sur (Chile)
  75. Zero Waste Ithaca (United States)
  76. BYO – US Reduces (United States)
  77. Surfrider Foundation (United States)
  78. Centre for Environmental Justice (Sri Lanka)
  79. Dietplastik Indonesia
  80. Indonesian Waste Platform (Indonesia)
  81. Green Africa Youth Organization (Ghana and Uganda)
  82. ECOTON  (Indonesia)
  83. IndyACT (Lebanon)
  84. Hanai Kaiāulu (Hawaiʻi)
  85. Katiba Institute (Kenya)
  86. Tangaroa Blue Foundation (Australia)
  87. EcoWaste Coalition (Philippines)
  88. Forum for Protection of Public Interest (Pro Public)
  89. Race for Water Foundation (Switzerland)
  90. Plastic Free Seas (Hong Kong)

Contact: Delphine Lévi Alvarès,, +32 9 496 65 25 (WhatsApp)

Extra Resources: 

Checkout our blog post “Global Plastic Treaty Negotiations: Action on Conflict of Interest” which discussed the Civil Society Calls for Action on Conflict of Interest at the Global Plastic Pollution Treaty negotiations.

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