The coronavirus crisis has made us more aware of the need to strengthen our resilience and build a more sustainable and environmentally friendly society while rethinking our economic, social and environmental foundations to achieve our sustainable development goals.
This statement was made, yesterday, by the Minister of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change, Mr Kavydass Ramano, in Parliament during his intervention on the budgetary debates. He emphasised that the measures in the 2020-2021 budget for environmental protection and management are part of Government's commitment to accelerate the ecological transition, which is one of the key recommendations of the Assises de l'Environnement held in December 2019.
Mr Ramano recalled that his Ministry, with the collaboration of relevant stakeholders, is developing an Environmental Master Plan for the Republic of Mauritius. The plan will include political and strategic orientations of the environment for the next ten years (2020-2030), as well as an Action Plan for the next five years. In this context, a fund of Rs 2 billion has been identified in the National Environment Fund to finance the implementation of the actions identified in this Master Plan.
Budgetary measures for the environment
Budgetary measures for the environment are based on eight pillars, namely: the circular economy and solid waste management; climate change; protection of coastal areas and the marine environment; control of plastic waste; air and water pollution; greening of the public sector; landscaping of the motorway and other public spaces; and environmental culture.
With respect to solid waste management, the Minister laid emphasis on recycling and composting, adding that 200,000 tonnes of waste can be recovered for recycling and composting by 2025. The budget allocated some Rs 148 million for waste management to implement waste sorting at source and to promote composting and recycling.
Other measures outlined are: two bins will be provided per household one of which will be used for storage of organic waste and the other for dry waste such as recyclable materials like paper, plastic, glass, metal; and retreading of tyres through a new measure of reimbursement of Rs 25 per retreaded tyre. The budget also proposes a Consumer Information System that will facilitate consumers' access to reliable information on green products.
To combat climate change, several investments will be made:
· Nearly Rs 1.2 billion will be allocated for the construction of drains in high flood risk areas in Mauritius and Rodrigues;
· Rs 314 million for infrastructural developments to mitigate landslides; and
· Rs 215 million to protect beaches and lagoons.
· The establishment of the Regional Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis Programme with the collaboration of SADC so as to support climate change risk assessment on epidemic risks and to promote food security.
The 2020-2021 budget focuses on the protection of coastal areas and some Rs 134 million have been earmarked for work on 10 sites most affected by coastal erosion, totalling 6.3 kilometres of coastline, including St Martin, Anse Jonchée, Providence (Grand Port), Bois des Amourettes, Pointe aux Feuilles, Petit Sable, Bambous Virieux, Rivière des Créoles, Grand Baie, and Grand Sable.
As regards the control of plastic waste, the regulatory and institutional framework will be reviewed and strengthened against plastic pollution, in particular with regards to the ban on the use of plastic bags at the consumer level, the ban of roll-on bags and pocket bags of less than 300 cm2, the establishment of a mechanism for the collection of PET bottles, and the ban on ten single-use plastic products. Eco-boxes will be installed in strategic locations to collect plastic waste for recycling.
In order to combat air pollution, the budget proposes the development of an air quality index which aims at informing the public on a daily basis on air quality in Mauritius. Other measures include: provision of Rs 10 million for the acquisition of 13 new portable opacimeters which will be made available to Vehicle Examination Centres, the National Land Transport Authority, the Police Traffic Branch, and the Environmental Police in Mauritius and Rodrigues; and the setting up of a Pesticide Residue Analysis Unit at the National Environment Laboratory.
With a view to greening the public sector, a Green Charter will be developed to help public institutions adhere to guidelines on various aspects of responsible consumption including paper use, sustainable mobility, water and energy conservation, and waste management.
Furthermore, the budget provides some Rs 207 million for the clean-up and beautification programme for drains, roads, rivers and public places, including places of worship. A Master Plan will be developed for the landscaping and beautification of the highway and lateral accesses to towns and villages will be developed.
The 2020-2021 budget has also made provision for Rs 3 million to encourage young people to undertake environmental projects with the community.