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Samoa joins $1-billion chemical waste fight

Samoa will join dozens of other developing island states in a US$450 million (T$1,221 billion) programme to tackle chemical waste and waste management. 

The programme, launched last week in Trinidad and Tobago by a consortium of international organisations, hopes to give rise to regional and national solutions to waste management over five years.

The programme's backers include the United Nations Environment Program (U.N.E.P.) and the Global Environment Facility (G.E.F.) and it is titled Implementing Sustainable Low and Non-Chemical Development in Small Island Developing States (I.S.L.A.N.D.S).

The push aims to prevent the release of over 23,000 metric tonnes of toxic chemicals and more than 185,000 metric tonnes of marine litter.

As well as waste management, it will focus on regional legislation on chemicals and waste management, removing persistent organic pollutants like pesticides and industrial chemicals, and e-waste and vehicles.

The U.N.E.P. reports that small island developing states (S.I.D.S) produced an average of 2.3 kilograms of waste per person per day, mostly from tourism.

That is 48 per cent higher than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (O.E.C.D.) average.

Before the launch, Saint Lucia’s Minister for Sustainable Development, Dr. Gale Rigobert said waste management technologies need to meet small island realities.

“Saint Lucia, like many [developing small island states]  is heavily reliant on its tourism sector for social and economic prosperity,” Dr. Rigobert said.

"However, if we continue business as usual with respect to our waste management and disposal practices, we are poised to suffer economic losses to the tune of $28 million per year due to damages stemming from the accumulation of toxic substances and wastes in our environment."

Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (B.R.S) Conventions, said the initiative is timely as the world is increasingly focused on illegal traffic in waste and the accumulation of plastic, especially in oceans. 

The B.R.S conventions are the international framework on chemicals and waste throughout their life-cycles.

Mr Payet said S.I.D.S, being remote, small and without new waste management technologies face more unique challenge than other countries.

G.E.F Chief Executive Officer Naoko Ishii called the programme: “one of the exciting programs to address emerging issues which require immediate action through the creation of effective platforms.”

As well as Samoa, the other countries involved are: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Cook Islands, Dominican Republic, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Guyana, Kiribati, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Union of Comoros, and Vanuatu.

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