Experts Explore Innovations, Solutions to Plastic Pollution in Nigeria at PUNCH Webinar

PUNCH Media Foundation, in solidarity with the United Nations Environment Programme and the global community, hosted another edition of its PUNCH Webinar Series on Wednesday, 21 June, to mark 2023 World Environment Day. The virtual event tagged Plastic Pollution in Nigeria: Innovations and Solutions for a Sustainable Future, was hosted on Zoom and streamed live on PUNCH Facebook in line with the foundation’s commitment to create awareness of and tackle critical issues that affect the sustainable development goals.

In his welcome address, the Senior Programmes Officer of the PUNCH Media Foundation, Taofik Sanni, noted that the event was organised to raise awareness, ignite conversation and inspire actions towards mitigating one of the most critical challenges of the present time – plastic pollution. He urged participants to be active and open to learning new ways of achieving a sustainable environment. A multimedia journalist and contributing member of the PUNCH Editorial Board, Deborah Tolu-Kolawole, moderated the event.

While speaking to her beat of the conversation, the General Manager of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), Dr Dolapo Fasawe, pointed out that plastic pollution is a major problem in Nigeria as it impacts the ecosystem, public health, and the economy negatively. She, therefore, charged participants to be deliberate in making their environment sustainable and not leave it for the government alone to bear.

To corroborate Dr Fasawe’s position of collective responsibility towards a sustainable environment, the Founder of Green Campus Initiative, Dr Adenike Adebukola Akinsemolu, showcased various initiatives and innovations that her organisation has championed – recycling and upcycling projects, sustainable packaging alternatives, and community-driven clean-up campaigns – which could also be replicated by individuals, groups, organisations, and the government to reduce plastic waste and its effects in Nigeria.

Similarly, the Assistant General Manager (Sustainability, Investment, and Partnership) at the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Dr Essien U. Nsuabia, and the National Programme Coordinator of Environment and Energy at the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Oluyomi Banjo, maintained that the government has a significant role to play in terms of policy formulation, awareness creation, and research, all geared towards reducing plastic pollution and its inherent danger.

Among other submissions on the role of the media in tackling the challenge of plastic pollution as a way to achieving a more sustainable environment, the Chief Executive Officer of MS & Associates/EnviroNews, Michael Simire, offered that the media actively engage social media as it has become one of the most prevalent and influential forms of communication of the era. He alluded to a social media campaign of 2018 in Kenya that advocated the ban of single-use plastic in the country with the use of #BanPlasticKE.

Participants, during the webinar, had ample time for knowledge exchange as they responded to polls, had their comments and contributions aired, and others were opportune to have the speakers address some grey areas of the discourse, including questions bordering on how the dangers of plastic pollution could be identified and addressed, and available innovations to achieving environmental sustainability. In all, speakers at the webinar were clear in stating that environmental sustainability through tackling the menace of plastic pollution is possible; however, not without the support of everyone in society.

The webinar demonstrated the power of knowledge sharing, collaboration, and collective action in addressing environmental challenges. It serves as a stepping stone towards a future where plastic pollution is significantly reduced, paving the way for a more sustainable Nigeria.

The PUNCH Webinar Series is a programme designed by PUNCH Media Foundation to mark select United Nations (UN) international days towards creating awareness of and tackling issues that underpin sustainable development goals.

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