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The Maldives has called for a global response that would lead to an effective international framework in fighting marine plastic pollution.
The statement was made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid in a virtual event co-hosted by the Maldives, Antigua & Barbuda and Norway to launch the Group of Friends to Combat Marine Plastic Pollution. The event which was hosted in New York in the presence of founding members of the Group of Friends, was held on the occasion of the World Ocean Day to signify the importance and the urgency of addressing the challenges faced by countries in combating marine plastic pollution.
In his remarks at the launching event, Minister Shahid emphasised that that oceans are the lifeblood of countries such as the Maldives and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Noting millions of people living on coastal areas around the world depend on the ocean for sustenance and economic growth, the minister raised concerns that the health of the oceans are rapidly declining due to alarming level of increase in marine plastic pollution.
Furthermore, Minister Shahid recognised the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as a wake-up call for humanity to build back better in a more sustainable manner, and urged countries to increase initiatives that would highlight the need to address this urgent issue. He called for a global response that would lead to an effective international framework to fight marine plastic pollution in the near future.
In reminding the international community about the commitments of the Maldives, Minister Shahid reiterated the decision by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to phase out single-use plastics by 2023, and to fully protect 20% of Maldivian oceans in the coming years.
The Group of Friends to Combat Marine Plastic Pollution has been established under the co-chairmanship of Maldives, Norway and Antigua & Barbuda to formulate a response at the global level to raise awareness and to advocate for action to combat marine plastic pollution. Presently, 46 member states of the UN have joined the Group of Friends. In addition to Minister Shahid, the Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg, and the Minister for Social Transformation and the Blue Economy of Antigua & Barbuda Dean Jonas also addressed the event.