The Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Technology, Aminath Shauna, on Monday, attended the interactive dialogue 1 entitled “Addressing Marine Pollution” at the 2022 United Nations Ocean Conference. She is in Lisbon, Portugal, as the special representative of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and will deliver a statement at the conference on his behalf.
Speaking at the interactive dialogue held, Minister Shauna said that the lives and livelihoods of Maldivian people are dependent on the health of marine and coral reef systems.
She highlighted that the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan and the Strategic Action Plan 2019–2023 adopted by President Solih’s administration pledged to protect at least 10 per cent of the Maldives’ coral reefs, 20 per cent of wetlands and mangroves, and other representative reef habitats from each atoll by 2023. She added that the Maldives has already declared 79 areas as legally protected, accounting for almost 14 per cent of the Maldives’ coral reefs.
Regarding plastic pollution, Minister Shauna stated that it has risen exponentially in the last decades, amounting to approximately 400 million tonnes per year. Voicing her concerns, she cited that only nine per cent of plastic waste is recycled while the rest is disposed of in landfills and the environment, including the oceans.
“Micro-plastics have been detected in marine species and even in our blood. Vulnerable natural systems such as ours are affected by plastic pollution leading to loss of species and habitats,” she said.
Minister Shauna also discussed the Maldives’ contribution to combating marine plastic pollution, emphasising the ban on the import, production, and sale of 13 types of single-use plastics, as well as a renewed emphasis on alternatives, waste segregation, and promotion of recycling and waste reduction.
The Minister also expressed the Maldives’ support for strengthened multilateral action, and welcomed the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly’s call to establish an intergovernmental negotiating committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution.