World Environment Day brings solutions to plastic pollution into focus

By | June 5, 2023

Abidjan, June 5, 2023 – Individuals, communities, civil society, businesses and governments around the world today celebrated World Environment Day with a focus on solutions to plastic pollution, with official celebrations held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, with the support from the Netherlands. The focus on solutions to plastic pollution this World Environment Day is especially timely, following the recent conclusion of a second round of negotiations on a global deal to end plastic pollution in France.

2023 marks the 50th anniversary of World Environment Day, after it was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972. Over the past fifty years, with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) at the helm , the day has become one of the largest global platforms for environmental awareness. Tens of millions of people participate online and through in-person activities, events and actions around the world.

Plastic is produced from fossil fuels, the more plastic we produce, the more fossil fuels we burn and the worse the climate crisis will be. But we have solutions, said UN Secretary-General Antnio Guterres in his message for World Environment Day. We must work as one between governments, businesses and consumers to break our addiction to plastic, advocate for zero waste and build a truly circular economy.

Speaking at the official event at Espace Latrille Events Deux Plateaux in Abidjan, Jean-Luc Assi, Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development of Côte d’Ivoire, said: In 2013 Côte d’Ivoire issued a decree banning the production, import and use of plastic bags. It has supported companies in the transition to reusable and biodegradable packaging. The country’s largest city, Abidjan, has also become a hub for start-ups looking to beat plastic pollution. They are encouraged. So we are all aware of the need to fight plastic pollution. Let’s act now and say stop to plastic pollution.

World Environment Day helps highlight the urgent challenges we face today. Challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. Plastic pollution touches all three of these challenges, noted Vivianne Heijnen, Dutch environment minister. It is crucial that we continue to raise awareness, collect best practices and ensure the engagement of all stakeholders. I hope this edition of World Environment Day proves to be a landmark in our collective fight to end plastic pollution.

Humanity produces over 430 million tonnes of plastic each year, two-thirds of which are short-lived products that soon become waste. While the social and economic costs of plastic pollution range from 300 to 600 billion dollars annually.

According to a recent UNEP report, Turning off the Tap, plastic pollution could be reduced by 80% by 2040 if countries and companies make profound market and policy changes using existing technologies.

For the sake of the health of the planet, for the sake of our health, for the sake of our prosperity, we must end plastic pollution. This will require nothing less than a complete re-engineering of how we produce, use, recover and dispose of plastics and plastic-containing products, said Inger Andersen, executive director of (UNEP). The way the world produces, consumes and disposes of plastic has created a disaster. But it’s one we can wrap up by turning off the faucet on plastic pollution. On World Environment Day, I invite everyone to join the global movement. And help us end plastic pollution, once and for all.

At the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) on Plastic Pollution in Paris, France, the INC chairman was mandated to prepare a zero draft of a legally binding international agreement on plastic pollution, including in the ‘Marine environment.

In February 2022, at the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2), a landmark resolution (5/14) was adopted to develop a legally binding international instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, with the ambition to complete the negotiations by the end of 2024. The instrument must be based on a comprehensive approach addressing the whole life cycle of plastics. The third session of the INC will take place in Nairobi, Kenya in November 2023.

Action against plastic pollution

Across the globe, ahead of and on World Environment Day, the momentum for global action is evident. This World Environment Day map showcases innovative, community-led solutions to reduce plastic pollution. Hundreds of activities have been recorded, from beach cleaning in Mumbai to cloth bag sewing workshops in Ghana and zero plastic waste live concerts in Atlanta.

The International Air Travel Agency and UNEP have announced a memorandum of understanding, in line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to address sustainability challenges in the aviation sector. Reducing problematic single-use plastic products and improving circularity in the use of plastics by the aviation industry is the initial goal of the partnership.

At a World Environment Day event at the International Public Transport Association’s (UITP) Global Public Transport Summit, in Barcelona, ​​Spain, UNEP and UITP presented a Memorandum of Understanding to formalize their partnership, with a strong focus on raising awareness of the environment and sustainability across public transport networks.

With the support of UNEP, Jyrgalan, a village in the Kyrgyz Republic, recently opened its first waste collection facility; The facility aims to address the growing village waste challenges caused by increased tourism, through capacity building for small businesses and strengthening the role of women in decision-making.

In Panama, under the leadership of UNEP representatives of the Panamanian government, UN regional and country offices and civil society, including youth organizations, have committed to reducing plastic waste both in their offices and in their community.

In Greece, thanks to the formation of the non-profit organization Enaleia, fishermen in 42 ports have stopped littering and instead recover marine plastic with their nets. which will now start working in Egypt and Spain and will increase its activity in Kenya and Italy.

The Kenya Plastics Pact has released new industry guidelines on the recyclability of plastic packaging. The guidelines aim to provide clear recommendations to decision makers on how to design plastic packaging compatible with future mechanical recycling infrastructure.

In New York, at the World Trade Center, an art project made entirely from plastic waste will be launched. In India, screen stars and well-known musicians have teamed up to create a music video and share messages to encourage more people to take action against plastic pollution. In Kazakhstan, local band Great Steppe released a music video to celebrate the Day and highlight the environmental damage the Aral Sea is suffering, while a United Nations-supported sustainable art and fashion event in Almaty showcased pieces made with recycled materials.

Airports and transport networks around the world, from China and Indonesia to Chile and the United States, as well as billboards in Times Square and Piccadilly Circus broadcast World Environment Day messages, raising awareness for millions of passengers and citizens on the importance of taking action to curb the threat of plastic pollution.

Hundreds of thousands of people attended World Environment Day online, with the hashtags #WorldEnvironmentDay and #BeatPlasticPollution at number one and two on Twitter, respectively. More than 50,000 people have downloaded UNEP’s practical guide to ending plastic pollution.

Taking place in community centres, schools, businesses and homes, these events, actions and exhibitions illustrate how individuals and communities are important drivers of environmental action. They can spur governments, cities, financial institutions and industries to use their ability to invest and implement solutions at scale to overcome and reverse the plastic pollution crisis.

NOTES TO EDITORS

About World Environment Day

World Environment Day, June 5, is one of the biggest international days for the environment. Led by UNEP and held annually since 1973, the event has grown to become the largest global platform for environmental awareness, with millions of people from around the world committed to protecting the planet.

About the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)

UNEP is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages collaboration in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

For more information, please contact:

News and Media United of the United Nations Environment Programme


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