Various activities including a tree planting campaign, beaches and lagoons clean-up, nature discovery tours at discounted rates and free guided tours for the general public in glass bottom boats at Blue Bay Marine Park, organised by the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity, and Environment and Sustainable Development to mark World Environment Day (WED) 2019, were launched on 08 June 2019 at the Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Tower in Ebène.
The Acting President of the Republic of Mauritius, Mr Paramasivum Pillay Vyapoory, and the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity, and Environment and Sustainable Development, Mr. Etienne Ghislain Sinatambou, were present on the occasion.
In his address, the Minister highlighted that the WED is an important reminder as regards the safeguarding of the environment and in particular helps to raise awareness to urgent environmental concerns. He recalled that this year's theme focuses on air pollution which he said, is a major global problem stemming from urbanisation, industrialisation and other development that requires the use of machinery, engines and fuel, among others.
According to Minister Sinatambou, air pollution is an alarming environmental issue which is heavily impacting on human life and the planet, being the cause of the premature death of 7 million people around the world, including 4 million in the Asia-Pacific region and latest figures show an increase to 8.8 million. On that note, he elaborated on the various health-risks that are associated with air pollution, as well as the negative impacts on the climate that is affecting the ecosystem.
One important way to address this alarming environmental concern, said the Minister, is to reconsider the way we produce and consume and adopt sustainable practices in all spheres of life that will ensure a healthy population, a sustainable environment as well as economic and social development. He recalled Government's commitment to limit sources of pollution and improving the air quality through various measures undertaken, namely: encouraging cleaner production techniques in industries and strict monitoring of strategies through a tracking system; ensuring that industries minimise pollution at the source through control mechanisms such as standards for air; increased monitoring of ambient air quality in hot spots; and environmental management to minimise the impact of air pollution caused by industrial activities that could affect homes.
Moreover, Mr Sinatambou stated that Mauritius now has three fixed monitoring stations for monitoring ambient air quality, including Port Louis, Vacoas, and Rose Hill, where regular monitoring is underway. Another key Governmental initiative is the Global Fuel Economy Initiative in partnership with the United Nations Environment Agency and with the support of the European Union and the Global Environment Facility, that aims to reduce by 50% by 2050, fuel consumption and thus the emission of carbon dioxide .
The Minister added that Government has also taken steps to encourage the population to reduce the level of air pollution by offering several incentives, such as the provision of a reduced tax on green investments in 2015 for the purchase of energy efficiency equipment, composting equipment, pollution control equipment and energy saving facilities, excise rates on hybrid motor cars were lowered by 30 % for all engine, and the creation of a Mauritian renewable energy agency to promote the development of renewable energies. He also announced that the preparation of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Measures for Mauritius is underway.
Other activities that were launched include an exhibition on air pollution, a DVD and a song on climate change as well as posters and pamphlets on the negative impacts of air pollution on the environment and prize giving to the winners of the Flower Mauritius competition for secondary schools.