February 6, 2020 // Malé
Ministry of Environment and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed the new Global Environmental Facility (GEF) project entitled “Eliminating Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) through Sound Management of Chemicals”. With today’s signing, the Ministry of Environment, representing the Government of Maldives, has reaffirmed its commitment to address the challenges associated with the management of hazardous wastes and chemicals within the country. As the unsafe disposal of chemicals and electronic wastes continues unabated, and their imports continue to grow, the Ministry has made it a priority to take steps to mitigate the risks posed by such substances.
The problem of waste management is not only a pressing environmental concern, but it is also closely linked to human health and wellbeing. As with many other countries, this challenge in the Maldives is fuelled by rapidly increasing urban populations, changing consumer patterns, growing industries and an ever-expanding tourism sector. With changing consumption patterns, there is cause for concern over the increasing volumes of chemical, electronic and hazardous wastes. Maldives, like all other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) imports all its industrial and consumer-use chemicals, with the number of such imports increasing by 26 percent every year.
One of the key steps that the Ministry has taken is to develop an action plan for the environmentally sound disposal of equipment that contains Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) present in the country by 2025. The action plan entails raising public awareness with respect to health and environmental risks of PCB-containing equipment and establishing a standard chemical management system. Akiko Fujii, Resident Representative of UNDP Maldives emphasized the need to address this problem, “We need to support SIDS with investment and strengthen customs to manage and monitor imports of chemicals contained in products; we need to assist them with technical capacity and infrastructure to manage, safely store and dispose hazardous substances; we also need support awareness raising on this issue.”
The main objective of this project is to reduce or eliminate the use of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and its unintentional production. Through capacity strengthening and the formulation of a national regulatory framework, the project will provide a nationally effective and environmentally sound system to manage POPs in addition to other highly toxic chemicals.
Minister of Environment, Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan stated that as part of this project, the government aims to soundly dispose 24 tonnes of PCB contaminated equipment. The Minister further reiterated that the government is fully committed towards ensuring safe use and disposal of chemicals, and this project is part of the government’s wider goal to ensure protection of human health and the environment from hazardous wastes.
The project is funded through grant support of USD 3,675,000 from the Global Environment Facility and USD 65,000 from UNDP. It will be implemented over the next 5 years from 2020 till 2024.