5 June 2018

In today’s busy world, our daily actions and work overlap and intersect each other as we strive to meet the development priorities of our people and governments, as well as the mandates of our organisations. These range from sustainable development to climate change, from disaster risk resilience to development financing, and from humanitarian challenges to peace and security. Every issue is important and all are inextricably linked to our environment.  

In our efforts to meet the production demands of our people for technological, social and economic development, we have created for ourselves issues that have long-lasting impacts on the environment, many of them irreversible. Ranging from marine pollution, human overpopulation, and global warming, to unsustainable consumption practices and wildlife crime – these are just some of the stresses that we have placed on our lands and oceans, and on our future generations. Conflicts and wars too have also taken their toll on the environment.  

The World Environment Day is celebrated on 5 June of each year, and has been since 1974. It is about encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment and it is widely celebrated in over 100 countries. The focus of this year’s World Environment Day is ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’.

Living in the Pacific, and especially amongst the communities of Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau, this is another timely reminder of our vulnerabilities. Much of the plastics that we use in our daily lives - plastic bags, food packaging, and straws - end up in our oceans, affecting our marine environment and coastal reefs, our fish stocks, corals, wildlife and humans alike. Scientists have estimated that eight million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans each year - adding to the estimated 150 million metric tons currently circulating our oceans. To put this number into perspective, the amount is equivalent to a garbage truck full of plastic dumping these into our oceans every minute.

On this World Environment Day 2018, the UN System in Samoa renews its commitment to supporting country efforts to reduce pollution and strengthen environmental sustainability for the benefit of all people and our planet. Reducing plastic consumption and restoring biodiversity in the Pacific Ocean are major priorities for the United Nations in the Pacific, and together with Pacific governments and partners, we invest in national capacities to protect marine ecosystems and improve livelihoods across the ocean.

Join us in ensuring that this World Environment Day 2018 marks our strong resolve to eliminate plastic waste from the Pacific Ocean and build a culture of care for the natural capital our lives depend on. Cook Islands National Environment Service and Strengthening Multi Sectoral management of Critical Landscapes in Samoa.

Simona Marinescu (PhD)
UN Resident Coordinator & UNDP Resident Representative

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