The Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), Juliet Kabera, has urged countries to support a proposed global aircraft aimed at beating plastic pollution.
She made the call on Thursday, January 13, while addressing virtually, a dialogue on the elimination of plastic pollution, which was organized by the Geneva Environment Network which comprises 75 organisations, led by the United Nations Environment Programme.
The treaty to reduce global plastic waste was recently co-sponsored by Rwanda and Peru.
The draft proposal is set to be discussed during the upcoming UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) scheduled from February 28 to March 2, 2022.
Kabera said that the plastic waste experience has highlighted the importance of national, regional and international collaboration to beat plastic pollution.
“Following robust conversations over recent months, we are pleased with the progress that has been made towards an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution,” she said.
The draft resolution recognizes the trans-boundary nature of the issue of plastic pollution and the need to tackle it at its sources.
“We hope that all countries will agree to take the next practical and ambitious steps of negotiating the global treaty, which will be a useful tool to face the issue of plastic pollution head on,” she said and encouraged all nations to limit the manufacture and use of single-use plastics.
Rwanda banned single use plastics starting from 2019.
“As we prepare a strong international agreement, there is much we can each do in our own countries right now,” she noted.
Kabera reiterated that there is a need to increase awareness and understanding of the dangers of plastic pollution, as well as the solutions and technologies that can fast-track the transition to environmentally friendly alternatives.
“We also need to foster behavioral change in our communities by investing in grassroots initiatives, empowering change makers and demonstrating the clear health and economic benefits,” she said.
She said that there is a need to put in place robust legal and policy frameworks at both the national and global levels saying, “Because of plastic pollution is a trans-boundary issue, we can only solve it by working together.”
For more than two decades, she said, Rwanda has prioritized environmental protection and conservation with focus on sustainable development that led the country to take meaningful action on plastic pollution.
“In 2004, Rwanda banned plastic bags as well as specific types of plastic packaging. This was done following an assessment that showed the negative impact these materials were having on human health and our environment. Since then, we have also banned single-use plastics and are now transitioning to sustainable alternatives,” she shared the experience.
A report on the UN response to marine litter and plastic pollution was also launched at the event.
The report identified the main barriers to combating marine plastic litter, and suggested a number of options to take at a national, regional and global level.
“The report is an important contribution to the effort to beat plastic pollution and also provides practical recommendations for scaling up and increasing the impact of this work,” she said.
The report recommends boosting the exchange of knowledge, best practices and experience regarding marine litter and microplastics
“The annual global production of plastics is approaching 350 million tons, and some estimates suggest this figure could reach as much as 33 billion tons by 2050 if the current consumption rate continues,” reads the report.