Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte expressed the collective hopes and ambitions of cities across the globe to address the plastic waste crisis during the high level event organized by the French Government and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Paris, France.
Belmonte, chosen as the sole representative of local chief executives worldwide, expressed the cities’ call to national leaders to consider their needs in passing the UN Treaty on Plastic Pollution (Plastic Treaty).
“Let us recognize the power of cities, acknowledge our accomplishments, and empower us with the necessary tools to continue championing the call against plastic pollution. Together, we can forge a future where this is but a distant memory, and our planet thrives in its full glory,” Mayor Belmonte said.
Like Quezon City, other cities are also experiencing the adverse impacts of plastic pollution including flooding from clogged sewers, air quality impacts from burning plastics, and the challenge of managing vast amounts of plastic waste.
To address these problems, Quezon City has initiated significant measures such as prohibiting single-use plastic bags and disposable cutleries, straws, and cups in restaurants and fast food chains for dine-in customers; and banning single-use containers and sachets in hotels.
In 2021, the city established the Trash to Cashback program to recover plastic waste from the waste stream, especially low value plastics. Residents will bring their recyclables and single use plastics to designated areas in exchange for environmental points which they can use to purchase groceries and pay utility bills.
However, according to Belmonte, these efforts are still inadequate to fully address the challenges of the plastic waste crisis.
“While we as cities are proud of our respective achievements, we recognize that we cannot address the plastic waste crisis alone. We need a truly ambitious global plastics treaty that unifies our efforts and sets a high bar for all nations to follow,” the mayor explained.
Belmonte stressed the provisions that world mayors want to be included in the treaty including the total ban on unnecessary plastics and adoption of reusable items; the creation of a financial mechanism to help cities shift harmful consumption patterns into an innovative and sustainable one; and strengthened collaboration with cities in the negotiation process of the treaty to ensure realistic and implementable programs.
Aside from Belmonte, other speakers in the event include French Minister for Europe, and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna, French Minister for Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion of France Christophe Béchu, United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director Inger Andersen, Marine Biology Professor of University of Plymouth Prof. Richard Thompson, Ellen MacArthur Foundation Executive Head for Plastics and Finance program Rob Opsomer, World Wide Fund for Nature International Correspondent Marc Lambertini, and children and youth representative Zuhair Ahmed Kowshik.
Earlier, Belmonte and leaders of local and regional governments issued their detailed vision on the treaty during the Paris International Forum to End Plastic Pollution in Cities.
Mayor Belmonte and Quezon City Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Department (CCESD) Head Andrea Villaroman are attending the High Level Event to End Plastic Pollution.
They have joined delegates from leading cities in the world and international partners including UNEP, International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), Bloomberg Philanthropies, Ellen McArthur Foundation, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), World Economic Forum (WEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN-Habitat.