Nigeria Joins Forces with World Economic Forum against Plastic Pollution

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By Ejiofor Alike

Nigeria will officially join the World Economic Forum’s Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP), a platform that works with governments, businesses and civil society to translate plastic pollution commitments into concrete solutions.

This development followed a week of virtual dialogues during the Davos Agenda, a global summit where heads of state, CEOs, civil society leaders, activists and media have convened to choose bold and innovation solutions to curb the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure a green and inclusive recovery in the years to come.

In a statement issued by the Communications Officer, WEF, Aylin Elci, the group forum acknowledged Nigeria as the largest economy on the African continent as well as home to one of the largest youth populations in the world.

The statement noted that the pandemic has slowed economic activity in this diverse and entrepreneurial nation and contributed to a depressed labour market, creating highly challenging setbacks for human and economic development efforts.

“Mismanaged plastic waste and unsustainable plastics production are commonplace in the West Africa region. Challenges include thin capacity and investment in waste collection and recycling, varying levels of awareness of sustainable practices among businesses and consumers, and the niche nature of innovative and alternative models supporting reduce and reuse. In 2018, Nigeria was estimated to have discharged around 200,000 tonnes of plastic waste into the ocean per year, while its annual plastics production is projected to grow to 523,000 tonnes by 2022,” the statement explained.

The statement added that in joining GPAP, Nigeria will work with the WEF to launch a National Plastic Action Partnership, based on a promising model that has been piloted in Indonesia, Ghana and Viet Nam.

According to the organisation, its principal mandates will include creating and working with locally led, locally driven platforms, such as the Federal Ministry of Environment and the African Development Bank-coordinated Nigeria Circular Economy Working Group (NCEWG), to bring together the country’s most influential policy-makers, business leaders and civil society advocates.

The goal is to deliver a national action plan for radically reducing plastic pollution, connecting high-potential solutions with strategic financing opportunities.

“With this partnership, Nigeria is further reinforcing its commitments and efforts towards addressing plastic pollution and safeguarding the environment,” Nigeria’s Minister of Environment, Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, said.

“From co-founding the African Circular Economy Alliance and establishing a Nigerian/AfDB Circular Economy Working Group to joining the Global Plastic Action Partnership, Nigeria is determined to unleash the full potential of our young generation of innovative and passionate leaders so that we can work together towards a future free of plastic pollution and waste. We look forward to strengthening our engagement with the World Economic Forum on this effort and to formally launching the partnership in the coming months,” the minister added.

“Amidst the myriad economic and social challenges that nearly every nation is facing, Nigeria has recognised plastic pollution as an urgent priority that cannot be sidelined,” Director of the Global Plastic Action Partnership and Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum, Kristin Hughes, said.

“Plastic waste and pollution are not issues that exist in a vacuum – they are deeply and intrinsically tied not only to the health of our environment but also the well-being of women and children, the livelihoods of communities and informal workers, the creation of new jobs and ways of working, and a nation’s ability to build a sustainable and thriving economy that leaves no one behind. We are honoured to support the Nigerian people in their fight to turn the tide on plastic pollution.”

“The World Economic Forum is delighted to build on and strengthen its existing collaboration with the Government of Nigeria with this new partnership,” Acting Head of Africa, World Economic Forum, Chido Munyati, said.

“The transition to a circular economy will be a crucial part of Nigeria’s global recovery and addressing plastic pollution in particular will have a visible impact on its natural environment, quality of life and opportunities for young people. Through this partnership, we will see Nigeria make a clear case for why economic growth and sustainable development go hand-in-hand.”