World Environment Day 2023
World Environment Day 2023 Remarks by Nashida Sattar UNDP Deputy Resident Representative
June 6, 2023
Excellency, Minister Tesfai Ghebreselassie of the Ministry of Land, Water and Environment of the State of Eritrea,
Mr. Vincent Omuga, OCHA Head of Office and UN Resident Coordinator,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Please allow me to extend my good wishes to you all on behalf of the UNDP Country Office team and my most sincere appreciation to the Ministry [of Land, Water, and Environment] for conveying us all here today.
It is with great honor that I join you, and millions worldwide, in celebrating World Environment Day 2023, especially on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary this year. Every year, this Day is a powerful reminder of the urgency of promoting and raising awareness about the environment and reflecting upon the consequences of our actions.
This year’s theme focuses on the “Solutions to Plastic Pollutions” under the campaign #BeatPlasticPollution shedding light on one of the most significant challenges of our time, a global crisis that has a detrimental impact on human health, the ecosystem, wildlife, and ultimately the economy. While it must be admitted that the world has greatly benefited from the use of plastic, the adverse effects on the environment and our health cannot now be overlooked.
Plastic is an element that remains in the environment for a long time and cannot decompose, and it only breaks down into smaller pieces while releasing toxic chemicals. It is estimated that globally more than 400 million tonnes of plastic are produced yearly. Most of it is designed for single use; less than 10 percent is recycled, and about 19-23 million tonnes end up in lakes, rivers, and seas every year.
Plastic pollution has increasinglytransformed our habitats and reduced the ability of ecosystems to adapt to climate change, heavily affecting the livelihood of millions of people and food production systems. On average, it is estimated that every one of us consumes more than 50,000 plastic particles per year as microplastics end up in the food we eat, the water we use, and the air we breathe.
Also, about 22% of the causes of diseases are directly linked to environmental factors. This number increases to more than 30% in the case of children. In the world, today, about 854.000 people die prematurely every year because of unhealthy environments.
With available science and solutions to tackle the problem, governments, companies, and other stakeholders must scale up and speed up actions to solve this crisis. Time is running out; nature is in emergency mode and the world has yet to find effective and global solutions.
But we are also here today to testify on the many transformative and sustainable alternatives Eritrea has successfully implemented over the years. Initiatives that must be celebrated and replicated elsewhere!
Excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen
As Eritrea’s partners, it is a duty and honor to celebrate all the progressive efforts the country has embarked on. In the early days of environmental consciousness, Eritrea decisively took the lead by prohibiting the use of plastic bags in 2005.
Many steps have also been taken to improve the legislative and policy framework, contribute to environmental conservation efforts, and control air and water pollution. Among others let me recall:
- the Greening Campaigns since the early days of Independence;
- the Eritrean Environmental Protection, Management and Rehabilitation Framework and the Legal Notice (2017);
- the Eritrean Water Resources Policy (2004 & 2007) and the Action Plan for Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) in Eritrea (2009-2016).
The efforts to increase the use of alternative energy have also reduced the pressure on the resources while securing the population’s health, particularly women and children.
Above all, Eritrea must be commended for working on its environmental policy framework while consistently placing the people at the center of the development agenda. It included and allowed communities, individuals, grassroots, and civil society organizations to lead the way in finding real, inclusive, and sustainable solutions in the conservation and protection of the environment.
In conclusion, Honorable Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to applaud the Ministry of Land, Water and Environment and the Government of Eritrea for all its initiatives in designing action plans that are responsive to climate impacts, reduce emissions, contribute to biodiversity conservation, and protect the livelihoods of society.
Let me express my immense appreciation for being part of this journey with you all. I take the opportunity to assure you of UNDP’s commitment and readiness to continue strengthening our partnership!
Thank you, Honorable Minister Tesfai Ghebresellasie for organizing this important event. I wish you all a successful World Environment Day!