Over 23% of plastic waste flows into ocean

UNDP Angela Lusigi

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in Ghana, Angela Lusigi, has expressed worry about the health of the country’s ocean.

According to her, the ocean is at risk from rising acidity and plastic pollution which can   destroy marine biodiversity and food chains.

She explained that Ghana’s per capita consumption of plastics is growing at 3.4 percent per annum – translating to more than 250,000 tonnes a year, with 23 percent of it finding its way into its ocean, adding that climate change resulting from human activities is another contributing factor to the ocean’s poor state of health.

“The oceans are recognised as the lungs of our planet and the largest carbon sink in the world. Saving our oceans will be a vital step in our fight against climate change and help to secure our future,” she added.

She said it is imperative for the sea to be protected to ensure the sustainability of some 3 million Ghanaians whose livelihoods depend on it, elaborating further that: “This dependency goes beyond just food to business and the communities that live next to the ocean”.

Ms. Lusigi made these revelations while addressing a gathering of government officials, the diplomatic community, academics, think-tanks, plastic and ocean-related sector stakeholders, as well as media at the National Blue Economy Summit held in Accra on the theme ‘Our ocean’s health, our prosperity, our planet security’.

She described the plastic pollution menace as one that needs to be approached with a sense of urgency, calling on Ghanaians to manage its use and disposal in an appropriate manner.

While underscoring the need for government to support plastic waste collectors and recyclers to grow their businesses and effectively manage waste and recycle properly, she said it also needs to work with plastic producers who are already looking for alternatives.

To ensure its sustainability, she said, the communities at risk also have a central role to play in protecting the ocean, further noting that: “This is a time to come together to look for sustainable solutions. Let’s manage our waste properly and adopt sustainable fishing practices going forward”.

She expressed optimism that UNDP’s partnership with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Advisory Unit, the government of Norway, the private sector and many others to create a platform that promotes collaboration among stakeholders in ocean-related sectors will help spur concrete actions to sustainably utilise the vast resources and services the ocean provides to transform Ghana’s economy.

She lauded Ghana for adopting a national strategic plan on plastic – bringing onboard all people along the value chain; a feat which according to her is a pathway for it eventually being able to sustainably manage its plastic waste. “Banning plastics is only one of the policy options, and I am happy to say that Ghana has a national plan on plastic,” Ms. Lusigi said.

Meanwhile, Special Advisor to the President on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Dr. Eugene Owusu, has announced upcoming second and third parts of the National Blue Economy Summit – to be held on 31st May and 1st June respectively this year, aimed at raising awareness on the need to urgently address the critical challenges facing Ghana’s ocean and highlighting the immense opportunities the ocean offers for our country’s transformation.

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