By Duncan Mboyah

Despite efforts to recycle and incinerate plastics, much of it is mismanaged and ends up threatening the wetland ecosystem.

This is according to Dr. Musonda Mumba, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands during an exclusive interview.

“Stocks of plastics accumulating in aquatic environments such as rivers, lakes, seas and oceans are projected to more than triple from 14 million tons to 493 metric tons in 2060,” Dr. Mumba said.

She noted that it is unfortunate that only an estimated nine percent of the plastics ever produced have been recycled and 12 percent has been incinerated while the rest is still in use or has been disposed of.

The official noted that studies conducted by her organization have revealed that the quality of wetland areas continues to decline in most regions of Africa and globally.

Dr. Mumba observed that many wetlands and species that depend on them are severely affected by plastic pollution.

The official added that more than 800 marine and coastal plants and animal species have been identified as affected through ingestion and entanglement.

At the moment, the official said that many migratory species are already threatened by habitat degradation and loss, while some are vulnerable to plastic pollution in rivers and wetlands.

She noted that wetlands act not only as conduits for plastic waste but also settle in them over long periods, degrading to form harmful microplastics.

She added that wetlands have to be treated with care since they are vital for human survival as they are the cradle of biological diversity on which countless species of plants and animals depend for survival.

Dr. Mumba supported a proposal to reduce plastic production by at least 75 percent by 2040 to ensure the best chance of meeting the 1.5 degrees Celsius target and to address the full life cycle impacts of plastics.

She said that the Ramsar Convention in collaboration with the World Wide Fund (WWF) and the International Conservation for Nature (IUCN) is supporting capacity development for communities along the wetlands to help foster conservation and help save species from demise.

Dr. Mumba said that the three organizations are concerned with the latest development as the amount of plastic that is entering the seas and oceans is more worrying since it appears there is more plastic than fish.

She urged delegates attending the conference that addressing the crisis of plastic pollution in the ecosystem is not only essential for the natural life that they support but equally important for human health and socio-economic wellbeing.

Dr. Mumba added that the current global plastic pollution crisis can only be effectively addressed by a compressive approach by all nations.