ISLAMABAD: Prime Minis­ter Shehbaz Sharif on Monday urged the people to reaffirm their commitment to using plastic responsibly to reduce plastic waste and embrace recycled and eco-friendly alternatives.

The prime minister said this in a message on the occasion of the International Earth Day which was observed on Monday. The theme of this year’s Earth Day was “Planet vs Plastics”.

“As we unite to observe this day under the theme, “Planet vs Plastics” that calls for a 60 per cent reduction in plastic use by 2040, let us reaffirm our commitment to use plastic responsibly to reduce plastic waste that is not only polluting our oceans, lakes, and rivers but are also making inroads into our food systems, posing a direct and serious threat to human health,” the PM’s message said.

The prime minister appealed to the people to reduce the use of single-use plastics and embrace recycled and eco-friendly alternatives, and advocate for stronger environmental policies at every level of society.

Shehbaz emphasises role of provincial govts, people in safeguarding planet

Several past governments tried to impose a complete ban on use of plastic shopping bags but failed to implement it.

Calling the International Earth Day a reminder of shared responsibility towards protecting our planet for now and for future generations, the prime minister said that though Pakistan was among one of the most climate-vulnerable countries, there was little awareness about the risks of climate change threatening the development, well-being and economic security of the masses.

“Year after year, we are witnessing its devastating impacts — from changing seasonal weather patterns, rising temperatures, variability of monsoons and melting of glaciers in the north, further compounded with recurrent extreme weather events and natural disasters — to the slower onset events of sea level rise, warming seas and loss of ecosystems,” the prime minister said.

He said that effects of climate change had exacerbated over the years, which puts the country at an even greater economic and physical risk.

“Hence, we understand the urgency of taking bold and decisive steps to confront these challenges and build resilience in the face of adversity,” he said.

The government, he said, was leading the charge and remained committed to making its contribution as it had initiated an exhaustive consultative process with ministries concerned, provincial environment departments, Islamabad Capital Territory administration, industries and other relevant stakeholders for developing Single-Use Plastics (Prohibition) Regulations, 2023, as well as restriction on the use of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottles in federal ministries/divisions.

“These initiatives underscore our commitment towards promoting a sustainable circular economy for plastics by reducing waste, and consumption, and encouraging reuse, recycling, and material recovery.”

“To achieve a plastic-free society and effectively combat the escalating issue of plastic pollution in Pakistan, it is imperative to address the underlying causes and promote a holistic approach for managing plastic waste,” the prime minister said.

Mr Sharif said the role of provincial governments and local authorities was of prime importance and urged the people to play their role in safeguarding the planet for the prosperity of all.

Recounting the nature’s bounties for the country in the form of awe-inspiring mountains, dense forests and pristine lakes and coasts, the prime minister emphasised the society’s responsibility to protect them.

Later, the visiting Iranian President Dr Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi and PM Sharif jointly planted a sapling in the lawn of the Prime Minister’s House to mark the annual Earth Day.

Accompanied by his spouse and a high-powered delegation of ministers and businessmen, the Iranian president arrived here on a three-day official visit on Monday.

Both the dignitaries planted the sapling of Chir pine, also known as Pinus roxburghii, native to the Himalayas.

Published in Dawn, April 23nd, 2024

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