Cote d’Ivoire hosted the 50th anniversary of World Environment Day on June 5, 2023, with the African Development Bank (AfDB) as a core partner for the annual event.
The bank co-organised this year’s commemoration event with the Ivorian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Netherlands.
Under the theme, ‘Solutions to Plastic Pollution,’ the event rallied more than 300 people to discuss why Africa should shift towards the circular economy and what the opportunities are.
Jean-Luc Assi, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, restated her country’s ban on the production, import and marketing, possession and use of plastic bags. He said the ban has encouraged businesses to switch to reusable and biodegradable packaging.
“They are being encouraged. So, let’s all be aware of the need to combat plastic pollution. Let’s act now and all say stop to plastic pollution,” Minister Assi stressed.
Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director, said acting together to end plastic pollution is a major opportunity – particularly for developing countries.
She said: “If we act with unity of purpose, we can eliminate plastic pollution by 2040. Reduce social, environmental and human health costs. Create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, mainly in developing countries, and new markets and business opportunities.”
Kevin Kariuki, African Development Bank’s Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth, urged collective efforts in exploring workable solutions to sustainably address plastic pollution, “one of the most pressing global environmental issues of our time.”
He said the African Development Bank, as the driver of Africa’s development agenda, is well-positioned in promoting initiatives against the continent’s environmental challenges.
The bank is implementing programmes and special initiatives that contribute to environmental management and sustainability. Two of these are the African Circular Economy Alliance (ACEA) and the Africa Circular Economy Facility (ACEF), which aim to promote circularity and sound management of waste – including plastic – in Africa.
During a panel, Rose Mwebaza, Director of UNEP’s Africa Office, noted that there is no single solution to the plastic pollution crisis.
“The good news is that all the technological solutions needed have already been invented, with a wave of innovative companies and forward-looking governments joining forces to make plastic pollution history,” she said.
The African Development Bank led the organisation of the Forum of Solutions to Plastic Pollution to help companies to stop plastic pollution in Africa.
“The solutions already exist,” said Al Hamndou Dorsouma, the Bank’s Climate and Green Growth Manager. “We don’t have excuses! Africa should move to Circular Economy. The future is circular.”