Mr Jean-Luc Assi, Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development
Mr Bouake Fofana, Minister for Water and Sanitation
Ms Françoise Remarck, Minister for Culture
Ms Yvette Daoud, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Excellencies, Partners, Ladies and gentlemen
Mr Kevin Kariuki, Vice-President of the African Development Bank
Mr Philippe Poinsot, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Côte d’Ivoire
In hosting World Environment Day, Cote d’Ivoire demonstrates a strong commitment to fighting the triple planetary crisis: the crisis of climate change; the crisis of nature and biodiversity loss; and the crisis of pollution and waste.
Plastic pollution is a deeply concerning strand of the triple planetary crisis.
The world produces more than four hundred million metric tonnes of plastic waste each year. Less than ten per cent of plastic waste ever produced has been recycled. Where does the rest end up? Buried, burned or dumped – often after just one use. In oceans, rivers and lakes. And, increasingly, in the bodies of animals and people. Plastic pollution is a grave threat to ecosystems, to human health and to the climate. Cote d’Ivoire is not immune to plastic pollution.
For the sake of the planet’s health, for the sake of our health, for the sake of our prosperity, we must end plastic pollution. This will take nothing less than a complete redesign of how we produce, use, recover and dispose of plastics and products that contain them.
We must redesign products to eliminate or use less plastic – particularly problematic and unnecessary plastics. Redesign product packaging to use less plastic. Redesign systems and products for reuse and recyclability. Redesign the system for justice – so that workers in the informal waste sector and other vulnerable communities have access to decent jobs.
Cote d’Ivoire is fully engaged in this process. Cote d’Ivoire is also acting domestically. As we just heard, Cote d’Ivoire banned single-use plastic bags in 2013 and is one of 15 Economic Community of West African States that agreed to ban plastic packaging by 2025.
But all countries, including Cote d’Ivoire, must pick up the pace. Each year of delay means more plastic waste gushing into the environment.
Governments must deliver a strong and ambitious deal to end plastic pollution. A deal that addresses plastics across the whole lifecycle. A deal that is truly inclusive – engaging informal waste sector workers, Indigenous Peoples, civil society, and academia. A deal that ensures support for developing nations.
Industry and the private sector must engage in the plastic negotiations, but there is no need for them to wait for a deal to act. To take full advantage of the new business models and markets that will emerge, they need to get creative now. Redesign products and packaging to eliminate or use less plastic; to be more easily reusable, to be more easily recyclable and repairable. Investors must back this transition with their capital. And international finance organizations must invest in solid waste management infrastructure.
Acting to end plastic pollution is, above all, a major opportunity – particularly for developing countries. If we act with unity of purpose, we can virtually eliminate plastic pollution by 2040. Reduce social, environmental and human health costs. Create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, mainly in developing countries, and new markets and business opportunities.
Everybody wins, provided we ensure a just transition. This just transition is crucial for Cote d’Ivoire, where the waste industry employs 10,000 people and supports up to 20,000 informal jobs. And it is crucial for the rest of this great continent, where decent and sustainable jobs for youth and women can bring prosperity and stability.
How the world produces, consumes and disposes of plastic has created a disaster. But it is one we can end by turning off the tap on plastic pollution. On World Environment Day, I call on everybody to join the global movement. And help us beat plastic pollution, once and for all.