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UN Environment Executive Director Appreciates India’s Innovation To Tackle Pollution

"Policy innovation is important as well, and we have seen India excel here, not least with a major announcement to ban single-use plastics by 2022,"

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Plastic
Every technological, scientific social and policy innovation is a welcome addition to domestic and global efforts to beat plastic pollution." Pixabay

It’s encouraging to see innovation — a key to tackling pollution — coming from all corners, especially developing countries like India, UN Environment acting Executive Director Joyce Msuya has said.

This is innovation in many forms, not just gleaming new technology like electric vehicles. Social innovation is important, like citizen-led movements to clean up pollution such as that led by Afroz Shah, who is engaged in one of the world’s largest beach cleaning operations in Mumbai.

“Policy innovation is important as well, and we have seen India excel here, not least with a major announcement to ban single-use plastics by 2022,” Msuya told IANS in an interview in run-up to the Fourth UN Environment Assembly here March 11-15.

Negotiations at the annual assembly are expected to tackle critical issues such as stopping food waste, promoting the decarbonisation of economies, tackling the crisis of plastic pollution in oceans, among many other pressing challenges.

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Praising India’s commitment to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022, the UN Environment acting chief said: “India’s announcement that it will eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022 is a tremendous move by the government.” Pixabay

Msuya, a Tanzanian microbiologist and environmental scientist, believes everyone can contribute to solutions to pollution.

Policy directions from the government, like India’s single-use plastic ban, help set the tone for businesses and encourages them to develop sustainable solutions, she said.

At the same time, upward pressure from individuals changing their habits and civil society campaigns force businesses to provide the non-polluting products that consumers demand.

Praising India’s commitment to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022, the UN Environment acting chief said: “India’s announcement that it will eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022 is a tremendous move by the government.”

“This unprecedented action will reduce plastic waste from 1.3 billion people in the fastest growing economy in the world. India is setting the bar high with this bold announcement.”

On World Environment Day on June 6, 2018, India pledged to eliminate all single-use plastic items like carry bags, straws and water bottles by 2022, the year coinciding with 75 years of the country’s independence.

The annual average per capita consumption of plastic in India is at 11 kg as against global average of 28 kg.

Single-use plastic ban and improving recycling technology are simply two tools in the same toolbox.

“There is no one answer to environmental challenges like this, and we need a comprehensive approach. For example, the UN Environment recently announced a project with Japan that will identify sources of plastic pollution in the Ganga river.

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This is innovation in many forms, not just gleaming new technology like electric vehicles. VOA

“This is the first time such a survey will have ever been done, and the knowledge we gain will help us better understand the problem. We need to be working across all areas. Every technological, scientific social and policy innovation is a welcome addition to domestic and global efforts to beat plastic pollution,” an optimistic Msuya said.

On smog becoming an annual affair in New Delhi every winter, she said Indian cities, like a number of others around the world, are suffering from poor air quality.

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“This is a global public health emergency. Living in cities should not mean living fewer years, or losing cognitive capabilities, or reducing the quality of life of our children,” said Msuya, who has visited and lived in cities chafing under the dark clouds of haze and smog.

For her, there is no magic fix. A range of actions must be taken by individuals, city authorities and governments, and these should be based on science. (IANS)

Next Story

Climate Change Affects Developing Countries the Most: UN

The African continent could leverage to its advantage in the global fight against the impacts of climate change

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Climate Change, Developing Countries
the least responsible countries suffer the most from the global threat that emanated from climate change. Pixabay

United Nations officials on Wednesday said developing nations were facing the brunt of climate change despite their little contribution to the problem.

A joint statement was made by Mary Robinson, Ireland’s former President and UN Special Envoy on El Nino and Climate, and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Vera Songwe during a climate-focused meeting in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

Robinson said, “those who suffer the worst effects of climate change are often the least responsible for it”.

She called for the need for climate justice as the least responsible countries suffer the most from the global threat that emanated from climate change, Xinhua news agency reported.

Climate Change, Developing Countries
Developing nations were facing the brunt of climate change despite their little contribution to the problem. Pixabay

Robinson was appointed UN Special Envoy along with Macharia Kamau of Kenya in 2016 to provide the leadership required to tackle climate-related challenges.

ECA’s Songwe said the African continent could leverage to its advantage in the global fight against the impacts of climate change.

“We didn’t create it, but we can profit the most from it. A climate smart economy is an extremely profitable economy. It’s an economy that will create more jobs and leave us cleaner and better,” Songwe said.

Mithika Mwenda, Executive Director of the Pan African Justice Alliance, said during the discussion climate justice was not getting the priority it deserved from governments.

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“Africa is most affected and impacted by climate change, but we don’t do much about it. We need strong governance systems to move the climate discourse and actions forward,” he said.

He urged the ECA to fortify collaboration with the African Union and the African Development Bank in line with the ClimDev-Africa programme that’s mandated by African leaders to create a solid foundation for Africa’s response to climate change. (IANS)