World Environment Day- aiming to curtail plastic pollution
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) in partnership with the United Nations system in Namibia and the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) observed the World Environment Day (WED) on 5 June March 2018 in Windhoek.
World Environment Day, which was celebrated under the theme: “Beat Plastic Pollution: If you can’t reuse it, refuse it” aimed to raise environmental awareness and education about single use plastics. Specifically, information and data on how plastic pollutes the environment were shared. Diverting from the usual celebratory approaches for observances, Namibia focused on raising specific awareness about: policy actions, investment opportunities, and behavior changes that individuals and institutions can pursue to address plastic pollution.
The Environment Commissioner, Mr. Teofilus Nghitila read the keynote address on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Hon. Pohamba Shifeta, who emphasized that the theme could not be well-timed when considering the current situation -land and water-based pollution - in Namibia. “This prevalence of plastic in our oceans creates concerns about the safety of eating fish for example. Fish is a food source we generally consider to be healthy and safe but if it is contaminated with plastic, it can cause all sorts of risks to humans from cancer to strokes, hormonal imbalances and heart attacks.” he said. Further, the MET is planning to introduce plastic ban and is busy putting measures and systems in place for implementation in future. If successful this introduction follows countries like Kenya, Rwanda and Morocco.
The UN Resident Coordinator a.i in Namibia, Rachel Odede’s statement read by the UNESCO Country Director Dr. Jean-Pierre Ilboudo has commended efforts by the government for demonstrating leadership regarding the awareness and response to pollution and climate change. “The Namibian Government is committed to solving the issue at hand through policies and frameworks such as the Pollution Control and Waste Management Policy, the National Climate Strategy and Action Plan and the Fifth National Development Plan,” Odede said in her World Environment Day address in Windhoek. Likewise, Dr. Ilboudo expressed concern that the production of plastic continues to rise and impact the planet. He reemphasized the UN Secretary General’s key message, which was “reject single-use plastic. Refuse what you can’t re-use.”
The event was highly enriched and filled with critical messages from and activities performed by, non-state actors and stakeholders including educational institutions. The CEO of the EIF, Benedict Libanda also shared the environmental levies and how this may help to fight plastic pollution particularly. He highlighted a future policy directive towards levies on plastic use that the country will pursue; with a proposal for environmental levies to reduce and stop environmental pollution, including electronic waste, oil and batteries.
Learners from the Hochland High School performed a stimulating and interactive drama on the dangers of plastic pollution to the national and local environment. “Yes we may be tiny but indeed very mighty. We as the youth needs to get involved, because if we don’t, who will?” Said Fransiska Kalumbu, a grade 12 female learner who gave a presentation on behalf of the school’s Environmental Club. Additionally, Anita Witt from the Recycle Namibia Forum delivered a comprehensive presentation on the five R's (Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, Refuse and Repurpose). She enhanced awareness on the five R’s correlations and importance to solving the plastic problems. Moreover, she shared practices being undertaken in Namibia to curb plastic pollution or to solve the problems, for example, the use of coffee pods in various locally produced items
Namibia is committed to Africa Agenda 2063, Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which accords primacy to people, prosperity, planet, peace and partnership. Specifically, Goal 14 ‘Life Below Water’ and Goal 15 ‘Life on Land’ focus on protecting marine and land ecosystems, halting biodiversity loss and ensuring the sustainable use of marine and terrestrial resources. Protecting the environment is also addressed in Namibia's development agenda, the Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5) and is mainstreamed in the UN's partnership with the Government of the Republic of Namibia (GRN), the United Nations Partnership Framework (UNPAF) 2019-2023. Specifically, it is addressed through the Environment Sustainability Pillar.
To ensure that SDG are widely promoted beyond the day; the day smoothly wrapped up with an SDG quiz, which was administered to the participating students by Ms Martha Naanda, a UNDP Programme Specialist. Learners who answered SDG related questions correctly won SDG-branded bags. In furthering SDG awareness, each of the participating schools received SDG branded bags to use during their SDG promotional activities.