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Involvement of vulnerable groups key to eliminating plastic pollution – Expert

The Women Environmental Programme (WEP) on Saturday, January 21, 2023, called for the inclusion of vulnerable groups in the implementation of policies and projects on plastic value chain to effectively eliminate plastic pollution across the country.

Women Environmental Programme (WEP)
Participants at the Validation Workshop

The Founder, WEP, Dr Priscilla Achakpa, said this at a Validation Workshop for Draft Narrative Report on Social Context Assessment for National Plastic Action Partnership (NPAP) in Abuja.

She said that the WEP was consulted by the Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP) in 2022 to conduct a Social Context Assessment for NPAP.

She said that the assessment was a national gender, equity and inclusion analysis of the plastic value chain and varied impacts of plastic pollution.

She said that the overall goal was to provide clear evidence that would feed into policies, planning and actions of the NPAP, to ensure that outcomes were gender responsive and inclusive.

Achakpa said that the aim of the workshop was to present the draft report for stakeholders to review the assessment findings, identify needs/gaps, and brainstorm possible responses to those gaps from across the communities.

She added that the assessment was conducted following the qualitative interactions with diverse categories of stakeholders through interviews and information from the experts.

She said that the assessment was focused on Lagos, Anambra, Kano, Benue and the FCT, between October and November 2022, which was based on the activities of plastics taken in those states.

The founder said that the WEP discovered during the assessment that the vulnerable were not really supported, adding that they needed financial assistance and should be involved in decision making.

According to her, “we discovered that lots of the vulnerable groups that are cleaning the streets and our government offices were not recognised while making decisions on the plastic value chain project.

“The activities of waste management or waste pickers are being done by the vulnerable, but when policies for waste management are enacted, these groups of people are not involved.

“Even the civil society organisations (CSOs) are not conscious of the fact that we have these vulnerable groups that are into this circular economy activities.

“So, we have done the study on the activities to know what is happening among the vulnerable communities.

“We will re-examine these reports from the states.

“We have discovered that there is nothing like Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) policies on waste management. It is completely silent, so we want their voices to be heard.

“When we are talking about vulnerable groups, we mean people with disability, women and the youth and when decisions on plastic value chain projects are being made, these people are not inclusive.

“These groups are the major key people that eliminate plastic pollution in the society,’’ she said.

Achakpa said that the workshop was organised by WEP, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and GPAP, a multi-stakeholder platform at the World Economic Forum.

She said that the GPAP aims to shape a more sustainable and inclusive world through the eradication of plastic pollution.

She explained that the GPAP supports each NPAP in conducting the assessment to develop tailored action roadmaps and other knowledge products to transition toward a sustainable and inclusive circular plastics economy.

Mrs Jummai Vandu, from the Department of Pollution Control and Environmental Health, Ministry of Environment, said that the ministry is committed to ensure that the aim and objective of the programme were achieved.

Vandu thanked the WEP for its effort in ensuring that the assessment was achieved effectively.

She said that the ministry is ready to partner with any relevant stakeholders that engage in innovative  programmes that would promote safety of the environment.

The Executive Director of WEP, Mrs Anne-Marie Abaagu, said that the research was an analysis of the needs, priorities, roles, discrimination and experiences of diverse women and men from marginalised communities.

Abaagu called on relevant stakeholders to support the plastic value chain project, adding that it would improve in addressing environmental challenges in the country.

The Creative Director, Ecobarter, Mrs Mahmoud Hauwa, called on governments of all levels and relevant stakeholders to support the organisation to achieve its objectives.

Mahmoud said that the Ecobarter was a waste solution company that provides waste management solutions through recycling and offering waste free alternatives through its Eco Shop.

She described Ecobarter as a sustainable waste management organisation, aimed at making it possible for households and organisations to conveniently choose responsible consumption and recycle their wastes.

By Vivian Emoni

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