WINDHOEK – The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), is in the process to implement the ban, which implies no single-use plastic bags will be allowed in the country’s national parks.
In response to recent circulating messages on the restrictions or ban of plastic bags in national parks, the MET confirmed an amendment to the Regulation relating to the Nature Conservation Ordinance, 1974 (4 of 1875) to restrict the use of plastic bags in national parks was approved and gazetted in 2017.
The ministry’s spokesperson Romeo Muyunda, last Friday said these regulations are not yet being implemented as the ministry is still putting measures and systems in place before enforcement and full implementation.
He noted such systems and measures include amongst others, the provision of waste or plastics disposal bins and proper signage at each park entry to inform the park visitors, residents and tourists accordingly.
In this regard, Muyunda said the ministry is developing modalities for implementing these regulations in national parks and such modalities and an implementation plan will be communicated by the ministry very soon.
According to him, the intention is to ensure national parks are clean and free of plastic bags, considering their harmful nature to the wildlife and the environment.
Equally, he said, as environment and tourism, has the view that all types of litter negatively affect the pristine nature of Namibia’s environment, the quality of life of its population and create a bad impression among visitors.
“It is our considered view that plastic bags warrant particular attention and regulatory measures to curb their use. This is mainly because of their prevalence, visibility, durability and the harmful effects they have on our wildlife, humans, livestock, aquatic biota and the broader environment,” he elaborated.
During the World Environment Day celebrations, the United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator in Namibia, Rachel Odede expressed the concern that plastic production continues to rise which negatively impacts the planet.
Odede said Namibia is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change and thus the negative impact of plastics on the environment. The day is observed annually on the 5th of June to promote worldwide awareness of the importance of the environment and taking care for it. This year’s theme, ‘‘Beat Plastic Pollution; If you can’t reuse it, refuse it’’ Odede says encourages all of “us” to take action to reduce “our” plastic consumption.
At the end of the day, she said if people do not substantially reduce plastic waste, there will be severe consequences for biodiversity, human health and food security. “Together, we can protect the environment and ‘beat plastic pollution’ to ensure that future generations can live in a healthy, clean and sustainable Namibia. Our world is swamped by harmful plastic waste,” she remarked.
“Oceans are particularly affected as a lot of the plastic waste generated on land ends up in the sea and causes significant economic losses, every year, more than 8 million tonnes end up in the oceans. Microplastics in the seas now outnumber stars in our galaxy. From remote islands to the Artic, nowhere is untouched. If present trends continue, by 2050, our oceans will have more plastic than fish,” she noted.
She added, there is however, good news, saying the Namibian government and its people have demonstrated leadership when it comes to awareness and response to pollution and climate change.
“The Namibian government is committed to solving the issue at hand, through policies and frameworks such as the Pollution Control and Waste Management Policy, the National Climate Strategy and Action Plan and the Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5),” Odede maintained.