United Nations system in Kyrgyzstan refuses single-use plastic

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BISHKEK (TCA) — The United Nations Country Team in Kyrgyzstan has made a decision to stop using single-use plastics at meetings and events supported by the United Nations. “We will work with hotels, service providers, and partners to urge them to follow our green policy. It is aimed at deepening environmental awareness about the major environmental challenges created by omnipresent global products, especially plastic bottles and plastic shopping bags,” the UN in Kyrgyzstan said.

On June 5, as the world marked the World Environment Day with the slogan “Beat Plastic Pollution”: Refuse what you cannot re-use, UN Resident Coordinator Ozonnia Ojielo called in his video address on all the supermarkets and shops in Kyrgyzstan to sign MoU with the United Nations system that before the end of this year we collectively stop the use of single-use plastics in the country.

Plastic shopping bags, which were rarity about 40 years ago, are now produced at a rate of one trillion a year globally. They are appearing in the darkest depths of the oceans to the summit of Mount Everest to the polar ice caps, posing serious environmental challenges. The world is swamped by harmful plastic waste. Every year, more than 8 million tonnes end up in the oceans. Microplastics in the seas now outnumber stars in our galaxy. If present trends continue, by 2050 our oceans will have more plastic than fish.

Since 2004 the UN Agencies in Kyrgyzstan implemented more than 50 projects worth 45mln USD, some of which are still continuing to develop and implement innovative approaches to preserve the unique natural assets of the country. However, Kyrgyzstan remains vulnerable to climate change. Extremes in weather and climate and unsustainable natural resources management are resulting in processes which cause natural disasters and make the socio-economic situation even more fragile, putting additional pressure upon local communities. The annual direct economic losses alone incurred from natural disasters are estimated in the range of 1.0 – 1.5% of GDP.

The Kyrgyz Republic has a full potential to become a champion in the region in collectively protecting its beautiful nature, alpine lakes and mountains, which are major tourist attractions, from the plastic waste. The United Nations Country Team therefore also calls on its counterparts in the government, civil society, and development partners to stop using single-use plastics at their events and conferences in order to contribute to this important effort to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on our natural places, our wildlife – and our own health.

Echoing UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ words, the UN Country Team in Kyrgyzstan states that we all have a role to play in protecting our environment, but it can be difficult to know what to do or where to start. That is why this year’s World Environment Day had just one request: beat plastic pollution. Our message is simple: reject single-use plastic. Refuse what you can’t re-use.

Sergey Kwan

TCA