On July 25th, the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST), Plastics SA and other partners will launch the African Marine Waste Network (AMWN) in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape.
The growing amount of debris and other waste that enters the seas of Africa, mainly from the land, is costing many millions of dollars each year. This debris is negatively affecting human health, degrading terrestrial and aquatic environments and is killing marine animals. While plastics and other debris are valuable resources, the reuse of this plastic is largely being lost in Africa.
The two day event will highlight this problem and explore ways of combatting this plight. It will allow for national and international experts to participate in a planning workshop, the celebration of the official launch, public lectures and the first meeting of the Network’s Advisory Panel. The purpose of this initiative is to look at ways in which organisations and individuals can work together at creating healthier and cleaner oceans for future generations.
The primary role of this Network is to bring people from around the African continent together to define, develop and implement a waste strategy. The Network aims to solve problems locally, but will also serve to help other countries strive towards waste free oceans. In working together, this strategy will encourage the people of Africa to reduce their negative footprint and promote their positive handprints in their own environment. This waste strategy will be the first ripple effect of what is intended to become a wave of change in Africa.
A central role for the Network is to bring people of Africa together to develop and implement the strategy, ultimately setting their own local, national and regional targets and monitoring their success. To be effective, the strategy must provide clear plans on what needs to be done to reach the set targets.
The keynote speaker at the launch will be Mr Kristian Teleki, currently the Senior Marine Advisor to the Prince of Wale’s International Sustainability Unit and the Director of Engagement for the Global Ocean Commission. His talk will focus on how valuable plastic is to our society and economies, but he will also discuss the massive impact that plastic has on our environment. The purpose of his talk is to look at ways in which we can co-exist with plastic, until other alternatives are found.
Other speakers at the event are Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Barbara Thomson, Prof Derrick Schwartz, Vice-Chancellor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan University (NNMU) who is a Patron of the SST, Mr Anton Hanekom, the Executive Director of Plastics SA, Mr Kevin Hustler CEO of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, and Councillor Rory Riordan will welcome the visitors to Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
Launching the Network in Port Elizabeth is appropriate, as Algoa Bay in Port Elizabeth is one of South Africa’s six Hope Spots. Although the launch is in South Africa, the African Marine Waste Network will be the first dedicated approach to address marine waste at a Pan-African level. The Network and its strategy will incorporate 38 coastal and island states of Africa, which makes the facilitation of this project in South Africa, a huge coup.
The problem is so great that no single organisation, town or country can meet the challenges alone. There must be a cross-border approach with all affected countries working together to solve the problem.
The official launch of this initiative is open to the public and will take place on Monday 25 July, at 18:30 at the NMMU South Campus Auditorium.
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