By Carolyne Tomno (ILCW member, Kenya)
A major campaign to end the dumping of waste in our oceans is underway. For too long the ocean has been treated as bottomless dumping ground for plastic, sewage and other waste.
Chile, Oman, Sri Lanka and South Africa have joined UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign against marine litter and ocean pollution, announcing measures including plastic bag bans, new marine reserves and drives to increase recycling. The four countries announced their support during the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya.
The head of the UN Environment Erik Solheim has hailed the countries for supporting clean seas. He says the countries are showing the leadership needed in order to end this abuse, and protect the marine resources on which millions depend on for their livelihoods.
The Minister of Environment for Sri Lanka, Anura Dissanayake, says the country, is taking bold action to turn the tide on plastics. We have banned plastic bags and are now working to reduce the number of plastic bottles in the country. We want to be a green and blue beacon of hope in Asia and do everything we can to keep the seas clean.
South Africa will step up its beach cleanup program and prioritize action on tyres, electronic waste, lighting and paper and packaging. This includes extended producer responsibility for plastic packaging.
CLEAN SEAS CAMPAIGN
Nearly 40 countries from Kenya to Canada and Indonesia to Brazil have joined the #CleanSeas campaign, which aims to counter the torrents of plastic trash that are degrading our oceans and endangering the life they sustain. The countries account for more than half of the world’s coastline.
Legislation to press companies and citizens to change their wasteful habits is often part of broader government strategies to foster responsible production and consumption – a key step in the global shift toward sustainable development.
Humans have already dumped billions of tonnes of plastic, and we are adding it to the ocean at a rate of 8 million tonnes a year. As well as endangering fish, birds and other creatures who mistake it for food or become entangled in it, plastic waste has also entered the human food chain with health consequences that are not yet fully understood. It also harms tourist destinations and provides breeding grounds for mosquitoes carrying diseases including dengue and Zika.
The #CleanSeas campaign aims to “turn the tide on plastic” by inspiring action from Governments, businesses and individuals on ocean pollution.