Plastic waste is a serious global problem. It is worse in developing countries like Sierra Leone where waste management is still a challenge. In order to address improper waste disposal and subsequently reduce or get rid of plastic waste, everybody must put hands on deck. Becoming environmentally conscious and “waste-aware” requires a mindset change and education.

 It is against this backdrop that the European Union Delegation in collaboration with Shout Climate Change Africa (SCCA); Sierra Leone Consortium for Climate Change and Sustainable Development; the Freetown City Council, line Ministries, UNDP and the Rokel Commercial Bank on Saturday 15 September 2018 held a beach cleanup in front of the Atlantic Lumley Hotel in the 2018 EU Global Beach Clean event at the Lumley-Aberdeen beach. Duty bearers underscored the need to collectively work together by raising awareness and change attitudes with regards to marine plastic waste pollution.  The head of EU delegation to Sierra Leone, Ambassador Tom Vens, remarked, “Plastic waste affecting our environment is a global problem that needs a global approach. 60% of the litter here (at the beach) are non recyclable plastic waste,” he said. Further adding that 95% plastic wastes eventually end up on the seabed and subsequently destroy marine life which affects all of us. The EU envoy also stressed the need for a proper regulation that would address this environmental emergency. Ambassador Vens also added that the initiative is a fundamental part of the Europe-wide strategy and we want Sierra Leone to be part of the global call for cleaner and safer seas. The British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Guy Warrington, said that Sierra Leone is one of the first countries to be part of the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance (CCOA) which is an agreement to jointly tackle marine plastic. CCOA aims to drive action on Sustainable Development Goal 14, which is to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. The British High Commissioner explained that under the alliance countries’ make commitments to address the issue of marine pollution by plastic, adding that “in some countries they’ve banned the use of plastic.” “We are looking forward to the Government of Sierra Leone to see their commitment,” he said.  Mayor of the Freetown City Council, Yvonne Aki Sawyerr, explained plans are already underway to address marine plastic waste pollution. She said the FCC is working with line ministers to address the problem. The FCC had a representative on the Environmental Protection Agency’s delegation that went to Rwanda and Gambia, where there is a ban on plastic bags, to understudy their policy to see how Sierra Leone could develop a policy. Minister of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment, Denis Sandy, said, “The environment is a priority in moving the country forward.” The Minister said, “The event is a demonstration of action and commitment towards taking care of our environment. If we do not act nature has a way of acting,” he warned.  OG/15/9/18

 

By Ophaniel Gooding