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Environment: African Development Bank leads fight against polluting plastic products

Nearly half a ton of plastic waste was removed from Grand-Bassam, a UNESCO world heritage city

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Environment: African Development Bank leads fight against polluting plastic products

On Saturday June 9, 2018, the African Development Bank culminated its program of activities for World Environment Day with a huge clean up of Grand-Bassam Beach, 40 kilometers from Abidjan. The municipality of Grand-Bassam, the Ivorian Ministry of the Environment, the Magic System Foundation and the Embassy of India, where the United Nations launched the international campaign against plastic pollution this year supported the effort.

The last day of activities was dedicated to protecting oceans. The Bank’s Senior Vice-President Charles Boamah worked with 500 volunteers to demonstrate the Bank’s commitment to fighting plastic pollution by thoroughly cleaning the beach.

Wearing gloves and carrying rubbish bags, volunteers worked in teams for two hours of hard work, collecting nearly half a ton of plastic bags, plates, bottles, cups and glasses littering the beach, which will quickly be recycled.

Boamah explained, "We have but one planet and we must protect it. What we are doing today needs to be done every day," calling for a collective consciousness raising and change of habits.  

He was accompanied by the Ivorian Minister for the Environment, Anne-Désiré Ouloto, the Indian Ambassador Ragutahalli Ravindra, the Executive Secretary of the Abidjan Convention on Marine and Coastal Ecosystems in West, Central, and Southern Africa, Abou Bamba, and several dignitaries from the municipality of Grand-Bassam representing the King of Grand-Bassam, Nanan Kanga Assoumou. 

From rhetoric to action

Ouloto called for pragmatic action. "We talk a lot and we sign documents. That does not get us any further. We must act, even posting a simple message on the social networks to encourage friends to change their behavior.  We will win this fight against plastics by working together," she said.

Abou Bamba endorsed her remarks and especially encouraged people to make small-scale commitments. "Everyone should volunteer in their local area to save the environment. If we make people more aware, we can persuade them to join in."

The Bank started its commemoration of Environment Week, which began on June 4, by organizing an exhibition of handicrafts made using recycled plastic and inviting staff to commit to reducing their use of plastic at the Bank by signing a white-board. A panel discussion addressed practical solutions to reducing plastics pollution in Africa.

Anthony Nyong, responsible for climate change at the Bank, made a presentation to its Board of Directors on the harm caused in Africa by plastics

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