The vision of the Government is to make the transition to a green economy by advocating the use of sustainable and innovative technologies to increase the country's resilience to environmental challenges and climate change. To this end, key targeted actions for the next few years include: the setting up of a Youth Environment Council, scaling up efforts to keep the environment clean by focusing on recycling, the creation of an incinerator for toxic and hazardous waste, implementation of zero plastic by 2030 and growing three endemic forests of 200-300 hectares each.
The Prime Minister, Minister of Defence, Home Affairs and External Communications, Minister for Rodrigues, Outer Islands and Territorial Integrity, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, was speaking, yesterday, at the launching of the Assises de l'Environnement 2019, at the Caudan Arts Centre, Port-Louis. Various personalities were present.
In his keynote address, the Prime Minister highlighted that as the Assises is rallying different parties all sharing the same goal of protecting the environment and saving the planet, for which, concrete actions for the sustainable and responsible use as well as better management of our natural resources are crucial. In the wake of the increasing consequences of climate change that are not only impacting the environment, but also the survival of mankind as well as the economy, it is critical for everyone to ensure the safeguard of our planet as a safe and clean place for the next generation, he said.
The Prime Minister also deplored that environmental degradation is being magnified by the irresponsible actions of inconsiderate people who indulge in polluting activities. He emphasised that protecting the environment and addressing climate change is one of the major concerns of Government, and to this end a series of actions have been undertaken to address environmental challenges. Some key recent Governmental policies include: the smart cities project that promotes the use of sustainable infrastructure and green energy; introduction of a ban on plastic bags; and the launch of the Mega National Cleaning and Embellishment Campaign Moris Nou Zoli Pei.
One major initiative in line with Government's determination to promote a clean and sustainable environment, underlined the Prime Minister, is the implementation of the Metro Express Project that will significantly transform the way the country will commute in the future by reducing traffic congestion, hence decreasing vehicle exhaust emissions. In addition, he announced that Government will make provision for a fleet of electric buses to make the transition to a modern and environmental friendly transport system.
Mr Jugnauth reiterated the firm determination of Government to accelerate efforts to join the global combat to safeguard the environment from all sources of pollution. He stressed on the need of collaboration from the private sector as well as individual and collective actions, for everyone to become an agent of change.
Also present, the Minister of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change, Mr Kavydass Ramano, spoke climatic emergency threatening the survival of both mankind and the ecosystem of the planet, hence calling for a paradigmatic shift in our environmental protection strategy.
According to him, this paradigm shift requiring a drastic change in our mindset, actions, attitudes, and daily practices will be key to avert a climate change disaster and help save the planet. He expressed conviction that a change in culture, including the early inculcation of values that promote sustainable living in order to help raise a generation of responsible and environmentally conscious citizens, and further integration of women and the youths in the campaign is crucial to accelerate the efforts of the Government, the civil society and the private sector.
Speaking about the key objective of the Assises, the Minister indicated that it aims to formulate a three-year Master Plan that will eventually be part of the new National Environmental Strategy for 2020-2030, as well as an action plan for the short term. He also announced for the introduction of the Climate Change Bill and amendments to be made to key environmental policies including the Environmental Protection Act.
For his part, the Head of the European Union Delegation (EU) to Mauritius, Ambassador Mr Vincent Degert, he pointed out that the Government of Mauritius is translating its ambition to fight climate change into concrete actions, and that the EU is proud as a longstanding partner to assist Mauritius through funding, technology transfer, sharing of best practices and joint research. He reiterated the EU's support to Mauritius and its willingness to be a reliable partner, while indicating that the environment has always been a focus of this partnership.
The EU, the Ambassador recalled, is currently financing more than 20 projects related to the environment. He further announced that new expertise and new financing has been secured to reinforce the capacity of the University of Mauritius and the FAREI to implement a research to improve food research, with a budget of 3 million euros and Rs 4 million euros for a reforestation programme in a natural reserve in Black River.
Assises de l'Environnement
The two-day 'Assises de l'Environnement', organised by the Ministry of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change, is aligned with the Governmental vision to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and its commitment to combat climate change. Various stakeholders including representatives of Ministries, parastatal bodies, the private sector, academia, research institutions, non-governmental organisations and the civil society are attending the event.