Clean-Up Day in Sharm El Sheikh

Speech Delivered By Alessandro Fracassetti, UNDP Resident Representative in Egypt

October 22, 2022

As prepared for delivery. 

Your Excellency Minister Yasmine Fouad (Minister of Environment)

Major General Khaled Fouda, (Governor of South Sinai)

Mr. Tobias Krause, Deputy Head of EU Delegation in Egypt

Ladies and gentlemen,

  • Thank you very much for joining us to mark the completion of a successful three-month campaign to reduce single-use plastic in Sharm El Sheikh.
  • Together with our partners, the Ministry of Environment, the Governorate of South Sinai, the EU and the Swiss Government, and most prominently the residents of Sharm El Sheikh, we are reducing the harmful impact of plastic in this beautiful city.
  • A key achievement in this process is that we have developed a successful model that can be replicated in other governorates of Egypt as part of the National Strategy for banning single-use plastics.
  • We have prepared the way by introducing the local residents of Sharm El Sheikh to alternatives to plastic bags and we have witnessed enthusiastic adoption of these alternatives.
  • But this is only the beginning.
  • I hope that we will soon be able to introduce alternatives to plastic bottles, cups, and other single-use utensils.
  • It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to minimize the use of plastic for the good of our own and future generations.
  • Yet, our individual actions alone will not stop the tidal wave of plastic pollution in the ocean.
  • Ultimately it is governments, businesses, and all the sectors that work in the plastic supply chain who can make the biggest impact by investing in sustainable alternatives.
  • In Sharm El Sheikh, for example, we have been able to count on the continuous support of the governor of South Sinai, General Khaled Fouda, for implementing the Decree to ban single-use plastics.
  • And I would like to take this opportunity to thank General Fouda for his long-term efforts.
  • However, much much more still needs to be done.
  • In any given moment, there are one million plastic bags in use around the world.
  • And each bag has an average lifespan of 12 to 15 minutes before it is discarded.
  • These and other single-use items, including plastic cups, water bottles and food packaging, comprise some 89 percent of plastic litter identified on the ocean floor.
  • These statistics are terrifying.
  • Every year, for example, up to 13 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean where they have devastating immediate effect on biodiversity.
  • That is equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every single minute.
  • Our ability to cope with plastic waste is already overwhelmed.
  • Only nine per cent of the plastic waste the world has ever produced has been recycled.
  • Most ends up in landfills or dumps, produce Greenhouse gases when they are burnt or directly in the environment.
  • According to UN Environment’s latest report, if current consumption patterns and waste management practices continue, there will be around 12 billion tons of plastic litter in landfills and the environment by 2050.
  • We urgently need to rethink the way we manufacture, use, and manage plastics.
  • Tackling one of the biggest environmental scourges of our time will require governments to regulate, businesses to innovate, and individuals to act. 
  • UNDP stands ready to continue supporting you in every step of the way.
  • I personally look forward to seeing Sharm El Sheikh set an example for others to follow – for people and for the planet.
  • Thank you.