Three more nations -- Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago and Paraguay -- on Friday joined UN Environment's Clean Seas campaign, bringing the number of countries now involved in the world's largest alliance for combating marine plastic pollution to 60.
The three nations signed up during the Fourth UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi where more than 4,700 delegates from 170 countries were meeting to hammer out new guidelines to lessen the speed of the planet's depleted resources.
Launched in 2017, the Clean Seas campaign works with governments, businesses and citizens to eliminate the needless use of disposable plastics and protect the oceans and rivers from a toxic tide of pollution that is endangering livelihoods and killing wildlife.
The alliance now covers more than 60 per cent of the world's coastlines.
Antigua and Barbuda banned single-use plastic bags in 2016, becoming the first country in the region to do so. The island nation is now working to eliminate polystyrene products, which it hopes to achieve over the coming year.
It is also looking to expand its recycling capacity and extend a scheme for collecting and recycling plastic bottles.
"Since introducing the region's first ban on single-use plastic bags in 2016, Antigua and Barbuda has been a pioneer in the fight against marine plastic pollution. We are delighted to join the Clean Seas campaign and share our drive and experience with other nations so that together we can take decisive action to turn this toxic tide that threatens livelihoods, wildlife and the survival of our oceans," Minister for Health, Wellness and the Environment in Antigua and Barbuda Molwyn Joseph said.
Landlocked Paraguay has committed to clean its polluted rivers, starting in the capital Asuncion.
Among Trinidad and Tobago's top priorities is reinforcing its waste management system while also educating the population about the need to separate household waste.
According to UN Environment, every year around eight million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans, poisoning fish, birds and other sea creatures.
That's the equivalent of one garbage truck of litter being dumped into the sea every minute. Plastic waste, in the form of microplastics, has also entered the human food chain, and the consequences are not yet fully understood.
Awareness of the need to act decisively against plastic pollution has been growing in Latin America and the Caribbean -- a region that is particularly vulnerable to marine litter and other environmental threats caused by our changing climate, such as increasingly powerful storms.
(Vishal Gulati is in Nairobi at the invitation of UN Environment. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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