2035 the target date to rid Africa of plastic waste filling the oceans!

DSC_4245.JPGPort Elizabeth: 01 November 2018

Seventeen years from now, Africa must be rid of the menace of plastic waste infesting particularly the oceans surrounding it, that is the ambitious target the African Marine Waste Network (AMWN) is setting itself in the global war against plastic waste.

That is according to its lead member, the Port Elizabeth based non governmental organization, Sustainable Seas Trust, which this week launched an initiative called the Africa Youth Waste Network to rope in the continent’s youth in the battle against mounting plastic pollution all across Africa.

DSC_8067.JPGThe youth initiative is part of a broader campaign by the SST and AYWN that is financially backed by the Norwegian government and which has already seen the establishment of an African Marine Waste Academy in Nelson Mandela Bay earlier this year.

Norwegian Minister of Research and Higher Education, Ms Isebin Nybo together with South Africa’s Minister of Tourism and acting Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mr Derek Hanekom were among high profile guests in Nelson Mandela Bay on Monday for the launch of the youth initiative.

Other guests included local government officials as well as academics from both the Nelson Mandela University as well as Norway’s University of Bergen.

Some scholarly ongoing research findings shared at the event depicted a dire picture of the highly negative impacts of plastic waste, particularly that which enters the African continent’s oceans.

Among the findings was that not only was plastic waste reaching the oceans now at unsustainable levels, but also that certain fish species were already feeding on it and in the process, posing a real and immediate high risk to both human and other creatures lives that feed on fish.

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Dr Anthony Ribbink. CEO: Sustainable Seas Trust

According to (SST) CEO, Dr Anthony Ribbink, time for talking about the pending disaster was over and target dates had to be set for defined action to show results, hence the group has set 2035 as the year on which Africa will be rid of plastic waste and resultant pollution.

Central to the strategy for cleaning up and eventually eliminating plastic waste will be the engagement of particularly youth across the continent through the newly set up network, combining it with ongoing academic research, but also a development of economic opportunities to both manage and get rid of plastic waste.

Key role players will include municipalities across towns and cities of the continent.

According to Dr Ribbink, the first target African city for the major clean up campaign will be Nelson Mandela Bay whose deadline for reaching a zero plastic waste status has been set even more tighter, as 2021.

“We want to make sure that Nelson Mandela Bay becomes the first city in Africa to reach zero plastic waste by 2021 and the local municipal government has committed to the target.”

He also announced that the African Marine Waste Network with 42 members countries across the continent will hold its second conference in April 2020 and during which concrete plans for the rest of the continent will be shared.

In the video below, Dr Ribbink explains the thinking.

Meanwhile,  Ms Alexie Kalenga, coordinator of the AYWN explained the rationale behind the active engagement of especially young people in the Africa war against plastic waste.

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Ms Alexie Kalenga. African Youth Waste Network

She said recent population statistics indicated two critical aspects about Africa’s population: that young people aged between 16 and 25 years hold (225-million as at 2015) constituted about 60% of the continent’s population and about 19% of the world’s population and were therefore the largest majority by far.

But crucially, this figure was projected to almost double to 456-million by 2055, thereby reflecting a rapidly growing population, with huge implications for waste generation and management as, she said, waste accumulation had been proved to be a function of population size.

She said the network was intended to be an active platform for collaboration, resource and knowledge sharing among young people across countries.

“It’s a youth driven initiative that aims at zero pollution and clean seas by 2035.

In the video below, Ms Kalenga shares more detail.

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Ridding South Africa of plastic waste, the next frontier war; declares acting Minister of Environmental Affairs

20180603_134053Port Elizabeth 31 October 2018

Cleaning up and ridding South Africa of particularly plastic waste that eventually lands up at the country’s oceans to the disastrous peril of sea life, is going to be the next big war to be waged intensely by Government in collaboration with society, says Minister of Tourism and acting Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mr Derek Hanekom

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Mr Derek Hannekom. Minister of Tourism and acting Minister of Environmental Affairs addressing guests during the launch of the African Youth Waste Network in Nelson Mandela Bay on Monday, 29 October 2018

Mr Hanekom confirmed this while attending the launch of an initiative to rope in and actively involve African youth in the war against plastic waste, as well as the signing of yet another collaboration agreement between the Norwegian government and the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth on Monday.

Both the launch of the African Youth Waste Network by the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) as well as the collaborative agreement signed between the Norwegian government and the Nelson Mandela University on Monday to strengthen and expand education and training related to ocean’s management, are seen as key components to strengthening South Africa’s Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative to rejuvenate and grow the country’s maritime economic sector.

SST is Port Elizabeth based South African non governmental organization that is part of  the African Marine Waste Network launched in South Africa in 2017 with 42 member countries across the African continent.

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Pupils from Port Elizabeth’s Inkqubela Primary School who were part of youths from a few schools attending the launch of the African Youth Waste Network at the Nelson Mandela University on Monday, 29 October 2018. The four, from their school’s environmental club also performed at the event.

The launch of the African Youth Waste Network (AYWN) on Monday is part of a comprehensive Norway government sponsored program by the African Marine Waste Network, led by SST, to actively fight the scourge of marine plastic waste across the continent.

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Mr Mongameli Bobani, Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay (seated, Front Left) was among high profile guests attending the launch of the African Youth Waste Network in Port Elizabeth

Mr Hanekom, as acting Minister of Environmental Affairs following to the passing of away of Ms Edna Molewa recently, is currently responsible for the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative launched for years ago.

However, as also Minister of Tourism, effective waste management in the country is a major interest in his portfolio.

Mr Hanekom, in the company of Norway’s Minister of Research and Higher Education, Ms Iselin Nybo among others, applauded the launch of the youth network initiative on Monday and expressed appreciation of the Norwegian government’s continued support of both the youth initiative as well as the Nelson Mandela University’s education and training campaigns.

He said South Africa, like most others countries in the world, faced a mammoth task of managing effectively the scourge particularly plastic waste in the country in order to curb and eventually prevent its negative impacts on both the environment as well as people’s health.

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Dr Karl Klingsheim, Counselor of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in South Africa (seated front centre) was among guests attending the launch of the African Youth Waste Network. Norway is the major sponsor of a comprehensive programme that includes the youth initiative.

With over 50% of all plastic in the country being in the form of single use packaging, Mr Hanekom acknowledged that South Africa had lost momentum in the fight against plastic waste after the initial introduction of levies on consumer plastic bags years ago.

Now, he said, the forward strategy currently under consideration through policy would encompass three components; curbing plastic generation at source, implementing effective ways of plastic usage, and developing meaningful ways of managing plastic waste.

Mr Hanekom said the first component – dealing with plastic at source – would ‘without doubt’ draw the ire of plastic producers who would argue strongly against job losses.  However, he said this would not be an unusual argument, as had also been experienced in debates about strategies on renewable energies.

“Chemical weapons are a no-no! Chemicals weapons are not allowed and the whole world is against their production. There is no arguing that, well, we got to continue producing chemical weapons otherwise we are going to lose jobs. It does not work that way.

“You’ve got to bite the bullet at some point, and understand the gravity of what you are dealing with, and say if we can’t continue doing this, whichever angle you approach it from…..that somewhere, we have to take some tough measures.

“You will always lose jobs when you migrate from one sector to another. It is happening with coal mining.”

DSC_8121.JPGCrucially, he said, something needed to be done in South Africa to rid the country of mountains of plastic waste now entrapping and eliminating life in the oceans and increasingly threatening people’s lives.

The second component would require actively bringing about public awareness as well as engagement, while the third component would aim at eventually eliminating plastic waste through innovative economic schemes.

Mr Hanekom said: “In the next few weeks, as part of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) we will be launching a national clean up campaign. It will be a big national effort about awareness and about people being actively involved, from the President, Ministers, Premiers and MECs, MPs and all public representatives.

“When this campaign is formally launched by the President, what is going to be expected of all us public representatives at all levels, is to go out there, dirty our hands and clean up the country at the same encouraging communities to actively participate.” he said.

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Nelson Mandela Bay welcomes launch of Africa youth initiative against plastic waste in its backyard

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Port Elizabeth: 31 October 2018

The selection of and launch in Port Elizabeth this week of a continent wide initiative roping in youth into the global war against marine plastic waste has been warmly welcomed by the coastal metropolitan area’s government.

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Ms Yolsa Padi. Member of the Mayoral Council for Public Health. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality (Port Elizabeth)

“The launch of this green programme and network is very good news for the city, ‘ said Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality (NMBM) Member of the Mayoral Council for Public Health, Ms Yolisa Padi in welcoming the launch of the African Youth Waste Network at the city’s university, the Nelson Mandela University on Monday.

“As our visitors will know, Nelson Mandela Bay has potential as a major tourist destination and a nature lover’s paradise. We are becoming increasingly aware of  our vast marine resources and the need to manage these responsibly, as well as of the economic and other benefits attached to an oceans economy.

“In all this, the cleanliness and attractiveness of our city and environment is vital, not only for the health and safety of our residents, but also because we are keen to build our reputation as a major tourist city and a preferred holiday destination.

The launch of the African Youth Waste Network in the region was, however, consistent with global marine and maritime related recent developments targeting the city, inclusive of the first continental African Marine Waste Conference held in the city in July 2017, followed earlier this year by the launch of the African Marine Waste Academy (AMWA) under the aegis of the African Marine Waste Network (AMWN) now currently with 42 members across Africa and reportedly growing.

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The initiatives, spearheaded by Port Elizabeth nongovernmental organization, the Sustainable Seas Trust and a founder member of the AMWN are financially sponsored by the Norwegian government which early in 2018 confirmed the awarding of about a R1-million to the programme over a 12 months period.

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Ms Iselin Nybø. Norway’s Minister of Research and Higher Education during a visit to Port Elizabeth, South Africa on 29 October 2018

A Norwegian government delegation led by Minister of Research and Higher Education, Ms Iselin Nybø, was among prominent guests at the function on Monday.

In her brief address, Ms Padi who accompanied the city’s Mayor, Mr Mongameli Bobani, described it as Port Elizabeth’s concern “the alarming news daily of the rate of destruction of the natural environment of our planet and its oceans. Current and future governments have no option but to increasingly focus on environmental protection and find better solutions to the issue of waste management,” she said.

In response however, she said the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University for its part, was “engaged in a number of cleaning and waste management initiatives to address this.”

“The going is slow but some of our initiatives are starting to show results and to be of benefit to our communities.

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Mr Mongameli Bobani, Mayor of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality (Standing, Right) greeting among others, Minister of Tourism and acting Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mr Derek Hanekom (seated, Left) during the launch of the African Youth Waste Network in Port Elizabeth on Monday.

“The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality fully supports the launch of the African Youth Waste Network. We know the time to do something is now and it is very right and fitting that the energy, enthusiasm and innovative idea of the youth will be harnessed in the process,” said Ms Padi.

 

For more on the launch of the AYWN, click on the links below.