Minister Joubert’s Environment Day message |05 June 2023
‘Let us come together as a nation to beat plastic pollution’
“Today, June 5, Seychelles joins the rest of the world to celebrate Environment Day. The theme for this year focuses on solutions to plastic pollution under the campaign ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’. This year, I wish to reaffirm my ministry’s commitment towards the cause.
“As we commemorate this day, let us remind ourselves that at this very moment, plastics and their hazardous additives continue to warm the climate, damage human health, and destroy ecosystems. Plastics are not only found in landfills, but, they are also present in the oceans and in our bodies. More than ever, governments, non-government organisations (NGOs), and community groups including youth groups across the world are pledging that something is done to prevent, reduce and eventually beat plastic and plastic pollution.
“At the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) in 2022, a historic resolution (5/14) was adopted, to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution by 2024, with the ambition to beat plastic pollution by 2040. Last week, negotiators from around the world including the Seychelles attended the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to discuss priorities, objectives as well as fundamental principles for the new Plastic Treaty. While not a producer, Seychelles is an importer of plastics and plastic products. The protection of our natural environment including the marine environment is, therefore, crucial and remains one of our top priorities as we depend on it to sustain our economy through the fisheries and tourism industries.
“Today, I recognise and commend the continuous efforts being made at the national level to help address the issue of plastics and plastic pollution. Since 2017, courageous and bold decisions have been taken and implemented, notably, restrictions on single-use plastic bags, cutleries and Styrofoam takeaway boxes, and single-use plastic straws. In addition, beach patrols and clean-ups by different
groups are often conducted nationwide.
“In 2019, 25 tonnes of plastic litter were collected on Aldabra, one of the two Unesco World Heritage sites. This shows that plastic debris drift from far-off sources.
“Three days from now, countries will come together to celebrate the World’s Ocean’s Day. Let us not forget that the ocean is the engine of our lives. Our Ocean is under serious threat. Plastic pollution is growing at an alarming rate resulting in entanglement and suffocation of wildlife such as sea turtles, fish and marine mammals.
“With the support of the United Nations Environment Programme, the ministry has been able to pilot a new approach to address the knowledge gap on marine litter and plastic. We have also been able to develop a national source inventory in consultation with our local stakeholders to obtain more information on the sources of marine litter and plastic. Through a National Action Plan, we will reaffirm our
intention to reduce the amount of plastic leakage into the marine environment.
“I am happy to announce that my ministry continues to explore new ways of addressing plastic, especially the unnecessary, avoidable and problematic plastic as they continue to leak into the environment. It is envisaged that new restrictions will be imposed on the use, possession and commercial distribution of plastics and plastic products still in circulation.
“Last but not least, our country’s ability to manage and address the issue of plastics will only be successful through the active engagement of everyone within the life cycle of plastics from production to disposal. The ministry and its partners will continue to engage in an aggressive education and awareness programme, therefore, targeting all groups within the society.
“We also commend all local, national and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for their crucial role in promoting a plastic-free environment, and by raising awareness, advocating for policies and implementing initiatives that address environmental matters. This year for World Environment Day we also recognise the effort of the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) in managing the two Unesco sites. Aldabra research station recently celebrated 50 years, and Vallée de Mai will soon be celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, since inscribed as a
Unesco World Heritage.
“On that note, let us commit to reducing our plastic usage and waste and finding innovative solutions to tackle this problem. I call upon every one of you, reduce our plastic usage, recycle and dispose of plastic waste responsibly. Let us come together as a community, as a nation to tackle this issue.
“Happy World Environment Day.”
Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change & Environment