Côte d’Ivoire will host World Environment Day 2023 on June 5 with the theme of solutions to plastic pollution, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Côte d’Ivoire have announced.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of World Environment Day, after it was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972. Over the past five decades, the day has grown to be one of the largest global platforms for environmental outreach. Tens of millions of people participate online and through in-person activities, events and actions around the world.
“The scourge of plastic pollution is a visible threat that impacts every community around the world,” said Jean-Luc Assi, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development. “As host of World Environment Day 2023, we welcome all sectors, from governments and businesses to civil society, to come together to find and champion solutions.”
Côte d’Ivoire has banned the use of plastic bags since 2014, supporting a shift to reusable packaging. The country’s largest city, Abidjan, has also become a hub for start-ups looking to beat plastic pollution.
More than 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year worldwide, half of which is designed to be used only once. Of that, less than 10 per cent is recycled. An estimated 19-23 million tonnes end up in lakes, rivers and seas annually.
Microplastics – tiny plastic particles up to 5mm in diameter – find their way into food, water and air. It is estimated that each person on the planet consumes more than 50,000 plastic particles per year – and many more if inhalation is considered. Discarded or burnt single-use plastic harms human health and biodiversity and pollutes every ecosystem from mountain tops to the ocean floor.
With available science and solutions to tackle the problem, governments, companies and other stakeholders must scale up and speed actions to solve this crisis. This underscores the importance of this World Environment Day in mobilising transformative action from every corner of the world.
This year’s World Environment Day will be supported by the Government of the Netherlands, which is one of the countries taking ambitious action along the plastic lifecycle. It is a signatory of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment and a member of the Global Partnership on Plastic Pollution and Marine Litter. It is also a member of the High Ambition Coalition calling for a strong and ambitious international legally binding instrument to combat plastic pollution.
“Plastic pollution and its detrimental impacts on health, the economy and the environment cannot be ignored. Urgent action is required. At the same time, we need true, effective and robust solutions,” said Vivianne Heijnen, Netherlands’ Minister for the Environment. “As part of several policies aimed at plastics, The Netherlands and the European community at large are fully committed to reduce the production and consumption of single-use plastic, which can and must be replaced with durable and sustainable alternatives.”
The announcement on February 2, 2023 follows a resolution adopted in 2022 at the United Nations Environment Assembly to develop a legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, with the ambition to complete the negotiations by end of 2024. The first meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-1) was held in Uruguay in December and the second meeting is expected to be held in Paris in 2023. The instrument is to be based on a comprehensive approach that addresses the full life cycle of plastic.
“We must seize every opportunity and engage with every stakeholder to deal with the plastics problem in its entirety,” said Inger Andersen, UNEP’s Executive Director. “Côte d’Ivoire and the Netherlands are among a number of countries rising to this challenge and embracing the benefits of a circular plastics economy. The commemoration of the 50th World Environment Day is a moment for all governments, businesses, community groups, and individuals to join this drive.”
The campaign for World Environment Day 2023 will use the hashtag and slogan #BeatPlasticPollution.