UNDP ENVISIONS WORLD FREE FROM PLASTIC POLLUTION, A COMPLEX WICKED PROBLEM
From its first stage of production right up to its disposal, non-essential and single-use plastics emit greenhouses gases which governments, non-government organisations and international bodies are trying to resolve.
UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Deputy Resident Representative Yemesrach Workie said the United Nations Development Programme envisions a world free of plastic pollution.
She spoke at a workshop on Plastics Circularity and Waste Management Workshop currently underway at The Pearl Resort in Pacific Harbour.
“In working towards this vision we aim to work with partners to achieve three ambitious targets by 2030 in the plastics space,” Ms Workie said.
This means taking an inclusive and whole system approach. The UNDP aims to support interventions in the areas of policies and regulations, innovation and technology, waste management systems, capacity development, knowledge management, communications, and networking.”
She added that the Plastics Circularity Systemic Design Workshop by the UNDP Accelerator Lab in Fiji was the starting point of bringing together stakeholders across the plastics value chain, from grassroots to policy influencers, to create a better understanding of the plastics environment in Fiji and the Pacific.
She said the plastics industry was quickly becoming one of the highest sources of industrial greenhouse gases.
This means it is increasingly becoming a major contributor to the climate crisis an issue that needed urgent action.
“The plastics industry is quickly becoming one of the highest sources of industrial greenhouse gases, making plastics a major contributor to the climate crisis. Greenhouse gases are emitted at every stage of the plastic lifecycle, from its production to its transportation, manufacturing, and disposal.
“In the year 2019 alone, Plastic production and incineration resulted in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the emissions from 189 coal power plants. Plastic pollution is a threat to crucial ecosystems.
“These plastics contain toxic chemical substances that have been associated with serious health problems such as hormone-related cancers, infertility, and neurodevelopment disorders.”
Government commitment to the cause
Minister for Agriculture, Waterways & Environment Dr Mahendra Reddy said just like climate change, the Blue Pacific continent is at the forefront of the negative consequences of plastic pollution despite Fiji’s minor contribution to the problem.
“All over the world, plastic litter is often found entering the waterways and eventually ending up in the oceans,” Dr Reddy said.
“In recognising the seriousness of the plastics crisis, and to protect our precious environment and ocean, the Fijian Government banned the manufacture, sale, supply, and distribution of single-use plastic bags in 2020.
“The newly amended legislation – the Environment Management (Budget Amendment) Act 2019 - bans plastic bags that is made entirely or in part with polyethylene, commonly referred to as ‘PET’, and is less than 50 microns in thickness.
“While this has been a critical step in protecting Fiji’s environment, waterways, oceans, and marine resources, it is but a small drop in a large, complex wicked problem.
“We must, and in fact we can, do more.”
He added that the Fijian Government supports the national implementation of regional efforts such as the Pacific Marine Litter Action Plan 2018-2025, and this was seen in the Fijian Government’s recently announced tax incentives for recycling activities.
“However, as we have come to learn, the global plastics crisis is so complex and wicked in nature that we cannot simply recycle our way out of it.
“We need the combined efforts of everyone in the plastics value chain. Public private partnerships, CSOs, women, and youth participation are crucial to implementing local, regional, and international policies and new innovative interventions in this space.”
Dr Reddy added that Fiji was one of the 175 nations to endorse the International End Plastic Pollution Resolution.