Sustainable Lifestyles — Plastics and Food Waste Management in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA)
The Global Opportunities for Sustainable Development Goals (GO4SDGs) was launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the German Ministry for the Environment in 2019 with the goal to accelerate regional solutions for inclusive green economies and sustainable consumption and production by sharing best practices and offering science-based knowledge, policy tools and capacity development opportunities in priority areas to “build back better.” It targets support policy champions, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and youth in integrating sustainable consumption and production, and inclusive green economy approaches in their policies and decisions to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals as well as the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
The GO4SDGs work stream in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) is led by the UNEP Regional Office for Europe and in 2022-2023, inter alia, targets to reframe tourism to address plastic pollution and food waste through capacity building activities and incentivized women engagement. This initiative goes in hand and corresponds with the targets of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative (GTPI), co-led by UNEP, which requires national and local governments, private companies and supporting organizations in the tourism sector to commit to reducing plastic pollution and shift towards circularity by 2025. The project corresponds to SDG 8, 12, 13, and 17, as well as to UNEA Resolutions 4/1 on Innovative pathways to achieve sustainable consumption and production, 4/4 on Addressing environmental challenges through sustainable business practices, and 4/5 on Sustainable infrastructure.
Furthermore, the project is crucial for promoting the accession of the Eastern Europe and Central Asian countries to the Global Tourism Plastic Initiative (GTPI), co-led by the UNEP. GTPI requires national and local governments, private companies and supporting organizations in the tourism sector to commit to reducing plastic pollution and shift towards circularity by 2025.
The activity is a logical continuation of the GO4SDGs past project, implemented by the European Centre for Eco and Agro Tourism (ECEAT) during August 2021 till January 2022 to support Central Asian countries and SMEs in the recovery phase of post-COVID in the sustainable tourism sector. The activity will be also complementary and linked to the upcoming ROE initiative on a plastic hotspot analysis in Kyrgyzstan.
The main objective of the project is to introduce sustainable consumption and production pattern in the region of Europe and Central Asian Sub-region by addressing plastics and food waste challenges in recreation zones of the region.
The volume of production of plastic waste nowadays is about 9 billion tons per year, and this figure is increasing every year. Of these, less than 10% is recycled, about the same amount is burned, the rest is released into the environment. Recent COVID-19 pandemic introduced another unhealthy pattern of beverages and food management, being served in plastic wrapping specifically in the public open space areas and land used for recreational activities, namely resorts. It causes adverse effect on environment by increasing food waste and packaging waste. That said, the desired activities under the present SSFA will improve the food-related behaviours and routines such as planning, purchasing, storing, cooking, eating, and managing leftovers to advance food waste performance and wisely manage single-use plastics use in recreation zones.
A regional approach will be combined with pilot activities in the Kyrgyz Republic, which produces 320 tons of plastic bags every year. Its Issyk-Kul Lake ecosystem is severely disturbed nowadays by the constant increase in the volume of household waste, a significant part of which is plastic bags and bottles. Plastic and polyethylene represent a great danger to the fauna of Issyk-Kul and there is already a risk of extinction of several endemic species of fish and amphibians living in the lake.
In short, proposed awareness raising and capacity building will be combined with pilot tailor-made activities, targeting to:
Promote the countries of the region accession to the Global Tourism Plastic Initiative;
Facilitate income generation through rooting “green” tourism behavioural pattern and best practices replication through awareness raising and capacity building by the means of regional webinars and etc.;
Promote women entrepreneurship role and participation in addressing plastics and food waste challenges in recreation zones;
Help process plastics waste in recreation zone of Kyrgyzstan;
Introduce policy recommendations to tackle plastics by applying the concept 'reduce', ‘reuse’, and ‘recycle’ of single-use plastics.