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Nigeria joins fight against plastic pollution

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NIGERIA will officially join the World Economic Forum’s Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP), a platform that works with governments, businesses and civil society to translate plastic pollution commitments into concrete solutions.

Nigeria’s Environment Minister, Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, made this known while briefing the media on the outcome of a global summit held in Davos, Geneva, where heads of state, CEOs, civil society leaders, activists and media have convened to choose bold and innovative solutions to curb the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure a green and inclusive recovery in the years to come.

“The goal is to deliver a national action plan for radically reducing plastic pollution, connecting high-potential solutions with strategic financing opportunities.”

According to the minister, Nigeria is the largest economy on the African continent as well as home to one of the largest youth populations in the world. The pandemic has slowed economic activity in this diverse and entrepreneurial nation and contributed to a depressed labour market, creating highly challenging setbacks for human and economic development efforts.

Mismanaged plastic waste and unsustainable plastics production are commonplace in the West Africa region. Challenges include thin capacity and investment in waste collection and recycling, varying levels of awareness of sustainable practices among businesses and consumers, and the niche nature of innovative and alternative models supporting reduce and reuse.

In 2018, Nigeria was estimated to have discharged around 200,000 tonnes of plastic waste into the ocean per year, while its annual plastics production is projected to grow to 523,000 tonnes by 2022.

In joining GPAP, Nigeria will work with the World Economic Forum to launch a National Plastic Action Partnership, based on a promising model that has been piloted in Indonesia, Ghana and Viet Nam.

Its principal mandates will include creating and working with locally led, locally driven platforms, such as the Federal Ministry of Environment and the African Development Bank-coordinated Nigeria Circular Economy Working Group (NCEWG), to bring together the country’s most influential policy-makers, business leaders and civil society advocates.

In Indonesia, the national partnership has launched action and investment roadmaps that could prevent 16 million tonnes of plastic leakage into the ocean, create 150,000 jobs, and generate $10 billion a year in revenue from investment in waste management, plastics substitution and innovative business models. Similar ambitious blueprints for action are under development in Ghana and Viet Nam and will be initiated in Nigeria on the partnership’s formal launch in early 2021.

“With this partnership, Nigeria is further reinforcing its commitments and efforts towards addressing plastic pollution and safeguarding the environment,” Abubakar said.

He added,  “from co-founding the African Circular Economy Alliance and establishing a Nigerian/AfDB Circular Economy Working Group to joining the Global Plastic Action Partnership, Nigeria is determined to unleash the full potential of our young generation of innovative and passionate leaders so that we can work together towards a future free of plastic pollution and waste. We look forward to strengthening our engagement with the World Economic Forum on this effort and to formally launching the partnership in the coming months.”

According to Director of the Global Plastic Action, Kristin Hughes,  Partnership and Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum.

“Plastic waste and pollution are not issues that exist in a vacuum – they are deeply and intrinsically tied not only to the health of our environment but also the well-being of women and children, the livelihoods of communities and informal workers, the creation of new jobs and ways of working, and a nation’s ability to build a sustainable and thriving economy that leaves no one behind. We are honoured to support the Nigerian people in their fight to turn the tide on plastic pollution.”

He lauded Nigeria for recognising  plastic pollution as an urgent priority that cannot be sidelined,

“The World Economic Forum is delighted to build on and strengthen its existing collaboration with the Government of Nigeria with this new partnership.” 

It will be noted that Nigeria is also one of the founding members of the African Circular Economy Alliance, alongside South Africa, Rwanda, the African Development Bank, the UN Environment Programme and the World Economic Forum.

The regional platform has mobilised a multi-donor trust fund of €4 million, which will fund circular economy entrepreneurs and initiatives with the potential to be replicated in African nations.

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