At the UNCCD COP 14, growing concerns about plastic pollution worldwide were addressed with a particular focus on the oceans, where approximately 50% of single-use plastic products end up, killing marine life and entering the human food chain. India is hosting the conference and its Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on present global leaders to follow India’s decision to ban single-use plastic, by declaring “time has come for even the world to say goodbye (to it)”.
While delivering opening remarks at the 14th session of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Greater Noida, Mr.Modi highlighted efforts taken by his government to combat climate change and land desertification, stating “it is widely accepted the world is facing the negative impact of climate change. My Government has announced that India will put an end to single use plastic in the coming years. I believe the time has come for even the world to say good-bye to single use plastic”.
India is slated to take over the presidency of the Conference of Parties (CoP), the Convention’s highest decision-making body, for a two-year term, and the Indian PM said the nation “looks forward to making an effective contribution” to the world’s fight against climate change.
In its most comprehensive measure yet, the Indian government is set to impose a nationwide ban on six plastic items viz. plastic bags, cups, plates, small bottles, straws and certain types of sachets, by October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation. This ban is expected to reduce India’s annual consumption of plastic projected to be 14 million tons by about 5%.
The Indian PM also talked about various other subjects, including India’s commitment to combat land desertification by protecting forest cover and combating water scarcity.
He said, “Between 2015 and 2017, India’s tree and forest cover increased by 0.8 million hectares. When we address degraded lands, we also address water scarcity. We have created ‘Jal Shakti Ministry’ to address important water-related issues.”
The PM also pitched India’s space program offering “friendly countries” assistance to develop land restoration strategies by using remote sensing technologies. He added that the battle against climate change was a global one and called on world leaders to recognize that people have to work together to effect change.
PM Modi said, “We may introduce any number of frame works but real change will always be powered by teamwork on the ground”.