AFRICA – The five member states of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) – Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion, and Seychelles – have committed to promoting a circular economy for plastics and reducing marine pollution caused by plastics.

According to the World Bank, up to 15 million tonnes of plastic make its way to the Indian Ocean each year, making it the second most polluted ocean in the world after the North Pacific.

Ministers from the five island states convened in Port-Louis, Mauritius, from September 18 to 21. Their objective was to promote tangible initiatives at both local and regional levels, urging governments to take action.

During the closing ceremony, the ministers adopted ‘The Declaration of the Ministers and High Representatives of the Island States of Africa and the Indian Ocean for the Development of the Circular Economy’.

The declaration focuses on implementing regional action plans to prevent, reduce, and control marine and plastic pollution. It also aims to promote circular value chains by recovering pneumatic, electrical, electronic, and plastic waste.

Additionally, the declaration emphasizes the importance of education and awareness about the circular economy, as well as mobilizing funding and partnerships to promote a sustainable blue economy.

In his address, the Minister of Environment, Solid Waste Management, and Climate Change of Mauritius, Kavydass Ramano, highlighted that the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration will accelerate efforts and the collective commitment of member states to work towards a shared vision and regional cooperation for the promotion of a circular economy.

“The transition to a circular and resilient economy is no longer a choice, but a necessity, given our vulnerability as a Small Island Developing State,” he stated.

The conference comes just months after Mauritius published its roadmap and action plan for a circular economy in July. In this plan, Mauritius has set a target to increase its recycling rate of plastic packaging from the current 3% to 50% by 2033.

Minister Ramano expressed hope that Mauritius will be able to achieve its set objectives with the support of the regional partnership through the IOC, despite major challenges such as a lack of funding.

He urged the IOC to support the mobilization of funding from relevant organizations and to establish cooperation agreements with other regional and international bodies.

This comes shortly after African leaders pledged their commitment to fighting plastic pollution and taking climate action during the Africa Climate Summit held in Nairobi, Kenya.

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