Litter in our seas and oceans are a major problem affecting our global environment. While the challenge in some areas is general public awareness, other areas suffer a lack of proper waste management infrastructure. The campaign #CleanSeas was launched in the first quarter of 2017 by UN Environment as a means of engaging citizens, governments, civil society groups and the private sector in the fight against plastic litter in marine environments. The aim of connecting these different individuals is to educate and transform habits, standards and policies from around the world to drastically reduce marine litter and the harm they cause.

Considered the largest program with a global impact of combating marine litter, as many as 51 countries have committed to having this come to light and these countries hold 62% of the world’s coastlines.

On June 8, 2017, Nigeria joined nations like India, Cote d’Ivoire, UAE, Vanuatu, Guyana and Sweden in committing to healthy, thriving oceans and seas free from plastic pollution by pledging to open 26 major plastic waste recycling plants. While work is on-going at sites in Karu in Nasarawa, Bola Jari in Gombe and Leda Jari in Kano state, two other plants are already complete in Ilorin in Kwara and Lokoja in Kogi state. But even with such commitment, Nigeria is still ranked amongst the top 10 biggest plastic polluters in the world.

On his visit to Abuja early this month, the Executive Director of the UN Environment, Erik Solheim, expressed happiness with the technical solutions for the effective collection and recycling of bottles which are organised by the private sector in Nigeria. Also weighing in on the Ogoni land oil spill clean-up, Solheim urged the Federal Government increase their pace at addressing the clean-up project because the people were concerned about the physical development in the land.

He also encouraged beverage companies to prevent littering by creating pathways for consumers to return used bottles. He is quoted as saying, “There is now more momentum than ever before to beat plastic pollution and protect the oceans that we all share from the tide of disposable plastic. Seeing so many countries rise to the occasion by joining the Clean Seas campaign means we are all moving towards healthier oceans that are free from pollution and full of life.”

Marie-Claire Oguamanam

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