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.
Earn valuable CPD credits
Urgent intervention is needed to stop an estimated 25million tons of plastic flowing into the oceans every year.
If nothing is done, humans will start to asphyxiate themselves in less than two decades because plastic pollution is impairing plankton’s ability to produce oxygen.
“People do not realise that 50% of the earth’s oxygen is produced by microscopic plankton in the ocean. And if take that away we won’t be able to breath soon,” said Marco Simeoni, president of the Race for Water Foundation.
Yesterday the foundation shared an overview of the current state of pollution in oceans at a media briefing at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town.
The foundation’s scientific crew collected data and compiled a snapshot of plastic pollution across the globe on a 300-day, 40 000 nautical mile research expedition as part of a United Nations-led campaign called The Race for Water Odyssey.
They visited island beaches situated in known pollution hotspots – five vortexes of plastic waste miles wide that has formed across the various oceans.
“Our preliminary results from the first three stopovers in the Azores, Bermudas and Easter Island showed that plastic makes up 80% of waste in our seas,” said Frédéric Sciacca, scientific adviser to the odyssey.
Hard plastic made up between 40% and 74% of the total amount of plastic found at these three sites. Fishing line and rope was the next biggest category, followed by foam, capsules, film and cigarette filters.
Plastic pollution is taking a devastating toll on sea life with 267 different species known to have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of marine debris, including 86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of all sea bird species, while 70 to 100% of albatrosses are known to ingest plastics.
“Plastic is also putting the human food chain at risk. Fish are eating the plastic, and we are eating the fish. We are starting to ingest toxic material,” Simeoni said.
The mayority of plastic pollution is caused by land-based pollution that is swept into the oceans by heavy rains and rivers.
“We cannot live without plastic. Our aims is to find ways to clean up the ocean and to develop sustainable and viable industrial techniques for collecting plastic in order to stop it being a pollution,” Simeoni said.
Leaders of major global travel and tourism associations on Monday have welcomed the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Global Travel Association Coalition (GTAC), which represents the leading public and private bodies in the Travel and Tourism sector, attests to the global importance of the SDGs and the role of the travel & tourism sectors in their realisation.
Speaking on behalf of GTAC, David Scowsill, President of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), said:
“Travel & Tourism is a sector which collectively contributes nearly 10 per cent of the world’s GDP and one in eleven of all jobs on the planet. Over one billion people cross international borders each year, a number expected to reach 1.8 billion by 2030, while at the same time, billions more travel domestically. This is a sector which will play a very significant role in making progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Like the Sustainable Development Goals themselves, the Travel & Tourism sector is global and action-oriented. It consists of millions of com panies – from the smallest hostel to the largest airline – which together forge an industry which encourages sustainable economic growth, creates jobs, promotes opportunities across society and alleviates poverty.
“Travel & Tourism has the potential to contribute directly or indirectly to all of the goals. In particular, as one of the largest and fastest growing economic sectors in the world, Travel & Tourism is well-positioned to foster economic growth and create jobs throughout the world to meet Goal #1 “End poverty in all its forms everywhere”.
Tourism has been included as a specific target in Goals #8, #12 and #14 on inclusive and sustainable economic growth, sustainable consumption and production and the sustainable use of oceans and marine resources.
“The Sustainable Development Goals will play a major role in framing our world for the next generation. The Global Travel Association Coalition, representing the major public and private bodies in the Travel & Tourism sector, welcomes their adoption and commits to contribute to making them a reality.”
Goals 8, 12 and 14 specifically mention the role of tourism:
- Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all includes as Target 8.9 “By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products”.
- Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns includes as Target 12.b to “Develop and implement tool s to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism which creates jobs, promotes local culture and products”. The Sustainable Tourism Programme (STP) of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP) aims at developing such SCP practices, including resource efficient initiatives that result in enhanced economic, social and environmental outcomes.
- Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development includes as target 14.7 “by 2030 increase the economic benefits of SIDS and LCDs from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism”.