Artículo | 24 Feb, 2020

IUCN hosts Plastic Waste-Free Islands inception workshop in Fiji

In efforts to assist Pacific countries reduce plastic waste generation and leakage from islands, IUCN hosted the inception workshop of the Plastic Waste-Free Islands (PWFI) project in Nadi today, Feb 20th. The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Waterways and Environment Mr Joshua Wycliffe officiated the event with a number of key stakeholders from other government ministries, NGOs and private sector organisations present, including IUCN Global Director of Marine and Polar Programme Ms Minna Epps.

In his opening address, PS Wycliffe called upon communities and councils across Fiji to set up resistance hubs to promote a plastic free message.

I call upon communities and councils in Fiji to establish resistance hubs, for something truly worth and noble, that will resist plastic pollution,” said Joshua Wycliffe, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Waterways and Environment.

“I am extending a partnership hand to IUCN to work with us. Many of the activities that you have supported us with in the past, especially with research have been invaluable and I am sure today’s exercise will prove to be invaluable as well”.

There is no debate that Plastic pollution is a serious issue. Statistics show that between 12 million tonnes of plastic debris enter the ocean every year, attributed to reasons such as unsustainable behaviour patterns, inexistent or non-enforced legislation, inefficient waste management systems and unknown leakage sources. According to some estimates and figures provided by the United Nation's Division for Sustainable Development Goals (DSDG), it is anticipated that at current rates there will be more plastics in the ocean then there are fishes by the year 2050. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are largely reliant on oceans and ocean resources; however there is not much attention placed on plastic pollution in SIDS.

The lack of responsibility of not only managing plastic waste but to re-use and repurpose, to date is terrifying. Discussion around plastic litter in the oceans and proposed solutions have come a long way in recent years. It is a complex problem with multitude sources and tackling these needs a holistic approach. To solve a problem one must understand its origin; so identification of plastic sources and pathways are vital.IUCN Director of Global Marine and Polar Programme Minna Epps stressed.

I believe urgent overdue action is needed. We are running out time and space”

Since 2014, IUCN has been involved in various initiatives in an effort to address the urgent issue of plastics. Much of this work has centred on research to expand and improve scientific understanding of this complex agenda. Through IUCN’s “Close the Plastic Tap” initiative, a number of projects have been implemented to advance six key pillars: partnerships, knowledge, capacity-building, policy, business and innovation. These pillars are the core of the work IUCN has been developing with partners and other stakeholders in different regions globally.

The PWFI will also draw and build on the expertise of existing regional plastics and waste management projects such as SPREP’s PacWaste and regional frameworks such as the ‘Cleaner Pacific 2025’ and ‘Pacific Marine Litter Action Plan’. This will allow IUCN to generate a vibrant community with players from all levels in order to generate a wide range of tools to replicate the approach on other islands.

At the end of the project, it is envisaged that tools and lessons learnt will be packaged into a scalable ‘blueprint’ for use beyond the initial three targeted PSIDS. Key regional bodies will then be equipped with the blueprint and supported to identify further opportunities to grow its application.

Supported by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), the PWFI is a three year initiative that will be implemented in Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu