02 May 2019

Today, the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) organized a special event with partners to launch its new publication on community-based plastics management and circular economy during the Meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm in Geneva. Plastic waste and the harmful chemicals it releases resulting from the linear model of “take, make, use, and dispose” plastic materials are critically threatening our ecosystem and human health.

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To better address this challenge, the panel served as a platform for development practitioners, researchers, policy makers and other partners to discuss the experiences and lessons learned on community-based plastics management and circular economy from SGP projects. The dialogue featured a discussion on the importance of putting people and communities at the center of plastics management to promote circular economy, and consider entry points, good practices, challenges and a way forward for plastics management in circular economy.

The new SGP publication demonstrates that local innovations and grassroot solutions can play an essential role in plastic management through circular economy approaches, which could prove critical for long-term sustainable development. It contains 10 cases from around the world that demonstrate initiatives on material engineering and product design to promote the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle plastics); consumer use and behavior shift due to campaigns, awareness raising and capacity development; waste collection and management.

Circular economy publication

At the event, Romauld Ferreira, Minister of Environment and Housing, from the Bahamas introduced one of the cases featured in the publication: a plastic waste management project in Bahamas led by a local NGO, One Eleuthera Foundation. This project devoted in establishing recycle depots around the island, and awareness-raising in schools, restaurants and stores about circular economy. Thanks to their efforts, some local restaurants and events have started to use biodegradable plates, cups and other items, and stores have increased the availability of biodegradable products for sale. Minister Ferreira said: “Awareness raising and concrete actions by the population, particularly youth, on the harmful impact of plastics to our environment and ocean is critical in a small island states like the Bahamas.”

The good practices identified in this publication demonstrate ways in which community innovations stemming from traditional local knowledge as well as from the application of modern science and technology, awareness raising, and advocacy on plastic management can contribute to GEF and UNDP’s strategy to achieve healthy environment and sustainable development goals.

"It is imperative to change collective behaviours and cultures to turn off the tap and reduce plastic pollution at the source, while also reducing consumption and providing an ecological alternative" said Gustavo Fonseca, Director of Programs of the Global Environment Facility.

ROplh at BRS COP launching SGP publication

"Plastic waste and the harmful chemicals it contains and releases are threatening our planet, ecosystems and human health. People and communities must be put at the centre of plastics management, and we must consider entry points, amplify good practices, and collectively move forward to realize an economy that is more circular. We appreciate the partnership with the GEF Small Grants Programme, which has been spearheading this work with communities, and encourage all stakeholders to act urgently and collaboratively to address this challenge” explained Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

Yoko Watanabe, Global Manager of the SGP emphasized that “investing in communities’ traditional knowledge and innovation can achieve significant positive impacts in promoting circular economy and SGP looks forward to working with all sectors of partners, and bringing community voices in advancing plastic management and promoting circular economy.”

The publication aims to inspire further innovation on plastic management from the local to the global level, support the concept of circular economy promoted by the GEF and UNDP, and boost interest in additional resources for community empowerment.

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Pictures: Christian Hofer and IISD

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