Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Health and the Environment, Sir Molwyn Joseph, is strengthening his call for earnest action by all governments and stakeholders in ridding the climate of plastic pollution, which persists as a grave threat to marine ecosystems throughout the region and across the globe.
Sir Molwyn made the plea while delivering a national statement to the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-2), which was established by way of resolution at the United Nations Environment Assembly last year, to create a legally binding instrument that will see the end of plastic pollution by 2024.
“This growth in the use of plastics has caused catastrophic problems in our marine ecosystems and human and environmental health due to the resulting plastic pollution,” Sir Molwyn told Government leaders, policy makers and experts gathered in France for the meeting.
Sir Molwyn followed up an eight-point strategy that he shared with the 54th Ministerial meeting of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution with a thorough examination of key categories that he proposes for consideration in limiting the negative impacts of plastics.
One such strategy seeks to devise and adopt solutions that promote a circular economy in preference to the traditional linear approach that dispels a “take-make-dispose” approach.
Waste management, Sir Molwyn noted, is another major category with which small islands like Antigua and Barbuda struggle, but crucial in mitigating public health risk while sustaining economic activity and enhancing public welfare.
“Waste management, however, is one of the least recognised and invested sectors worldwide,” Sir Molwyn lamented.
He further underscored his government’s commitment to the creation and adoption of legislation and the utilisation of new technologies for waste management and prioritising plastic products that are likely to end up as pollution.
Sir Molwyn further noted that while recycling has proven effective, it only goes so far and requires other approaches, action, and measures across the lifecycle of plastics in stemming the tide.
Among the measures he calls for are “scaled-up regulations that curtail the flow of plastic debris reaching our Caribbean Sea and wider Caribbean region to ensure that noncompliance and traceability mechanisms are implemented.”
The Environment Minister also underscored the need for public/private sector partnerships in strengthening the implementation of policies and legislation.
Sir Molwyn anticipates that a draft treaty, on the condition of the full and involved cooperation of all participating delegations, will be ready for the next Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee meeting as the work of the body advances in ending plastic pollution by 2024.