In his address, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan reaffirmed India’s commitment to defeat plastic pollution. Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that for long-term sustainable living, the global community needs to rethink its energy and resource consumption patterns. The Environment Minister stressed that to beat plastic pollution, we need to completely rethink our approach towards designing, manufacturing and disposal of plastic products. He informed that plastic packaging accounts for around 50% of global plastic waste, with much of it being single-use plastic. Dr. Vardhan appealed to Governments, private sector, civil society organizations and individuals to partner and play a major role in weaning the society away from dependence on single-use plastic. Advocating an out-of-the-box approach through solutions that lead to Green Good Behaviour, he said that Indian philosophy and lifestyle has long been rooted in the concept of living in harmony with nature. He urged every citizen to become a Green Ambassador. “If each and every one of us does at least one Green Good Deed daily towards our Green Social Responsibility, there will be billion of Green Good Deeds daily on the planet. We can conserve the environment only when it becomes a People’s Movement”, Dr. Vardhan averred.
Welcoming the participants, Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Mahesh Sharma said, the United Nations approached the Government of India to be the global host of WED 2018, with a focus on plastic waste and pollution and we were happy to play the leadership role. Dr. Sharma said, “It is important to note that India’s annual per capita plastic consumption is almost 1/3rd of the global average. Plastic waste is still a concern for us like any other country and we have plenty of grassroots initiatives showcasing a possible way ahead by involving participation of various stakeholders”. He added that the World Environment Day provides an opportunity to commit ourselves to build a healthy environment and rededicate our efforts in this direction.
Executive Director, UN Environment, Mr. Erik Solheim, expressed his gratitude to the people and Government of India for such an elaborate organization of the World Environment Day 2018, which is unprecedented. He shared his experience of rich valuable interactions with people during his visit to various parts of the country in last few days especially Taj Mahal, Agra. ‟In India, there are many initiatives against plastic waste and pollution going on like the one led by grassroot communities, government and local population, corporate sector and enthusiastic environmentalists amongst others, which are both a source inspiration and encouragement for the international community”, Mr. Solheim said.
The Prime Minister released a commemorative stamp, first-day cover and brochure on the theme of World Environment Day 2018 – “Beat Plastic Pollution”. Five publications were also released titled – “Plant Discoveries 2017” published by Botanical Survey of India, three publications by MoEFCC on “Compendium of Traded Indian Medicinal Plants”, “Plastics in Life and Environment ‟Animal Discoveries 2017” published by Zoological Survey of India, and,” and “Beat Plastic Pollution: Good News from India”.
CEOs of six corporate houses shared their efforts to partner with Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and pledged their support to reduce single-use plastics as part of their operations. The pledges were made by Chairman and MD, ONGC, Mr. Shashi Shankar, President, Cement Manufacturers’ Association (CMA), Dr. Shailendra Chouksey, Executive Director, ITC Limited Shri Nakul Anand, Chairman-cum-Managing Director, NBCC, Mr. A K Mittal, CEO, Procter and Gamble (P&G), Mr. Madhusudan Gopalan and MD & CEO, Hindustan Unilever, Mr. Sanjeev Mehta.
An exhibition titled Sambandh was organized in the back lawns of Vigyan Bhawan, showcasing the intrinsic relationship between people and environment with tremendous footfall in last three days. The Prime Minister visited the exhibition and appreciated the rich knowledge presented by participating institutions in different sectors and its linkage with pollution, especially plastics.