PRIME MINISTER RABUKA’S SPEECH AT THE 2024 GLOBAL RECYCLING DAY CELEBRATIONS IN QVS- (18-03-2024)

• Cabinet Ministers;
• Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
• Founder of Pacific Recycling Foundation Mr. Amitesh Deo;
• Swire Shipping Regional Manager, Mr. Alex Pattison;
• USAID Mission Director – Pacific Islands, Ms. Zema Semunegus;
• Ecological Economist and PRF’s Lead Consultant Dr. Padma Lal;
• The Principal Queen Victoria School;
• Key stakeholders and Partners working in the recycling space;
• Recycling advocates;
• Collection Pillars of Recycling (formerly known informal waste pickers);
• Teachers, support staff and Students of QVS; and
• Ladies and Gentleman.

Ni Sa Bula Vina’a and a very good morning to you all.

It is wonderful to be here today with you all, to mark Global Recycling Day 2024!

I am a keen advocate of the importance of recycling for a cleaner Fiji and today I am grateful for the opportunity to return to this institution which holds a special place in my heart.
I want to start by thanking the Principal, Teachers and students for the warm ceremony of welcome.

This is something that QVS is well known for and I am proud to see our traditions continue to be respected today.

I also wish to recognise the founder of the Pacific Recycling Foundation, USAID, Swire Shipping and sponsors for the continued advocacy on waste recycling, in particular this program with young people, in our communities and in our schools.

Waste recycling is very close to my heart, for it gave me a source of income during a difficult and challenging period in my life.

I have shared this experience publicly to show that if you are determined, you can overcome any obstacle.

That is why, to this day, I continue to collect plastic bottles and participate in foreshore clean-up campaigns for the purpose of recycling and at the same time, keeping our environment clean.

Ladies and gentlemen, waste management/reduction continues to present a global challenge given the modern consumer culture and economy.
Despite technological advancements, and increased advocacy globally, waste management remains a pressing crisis.

As individuals living on this planet, we have a responsibility to make informed choices, pursue sustainable consumption patterns and reduce the amount of waste we produce.

We also have a choice in our use of plastic bottles and other materials that are not biodegradable.

Companies that manufacture these should have a recycling program and we as consumers have a role to play in the choices we make.
For us in Fiji, a pristine environment is a necessity:
(i) for our wellbeing,
(ii) a cleaner and healthier environment to live in,
(iii) enhancement of local ecosystems,
(iv) the preservation of natural resources and environment and
(v) to reduce health risks.

If we do not properly manage our waste, we risk:
(i) deteriorating public health,
(ii) increased pollution,
(iii) disease outbreaks,
(iv) environmental degradation and
(v) reduced standard of living.

Therefore, innovative approaches to waste management are to be supported and I must commend the Pacific Recycling Foundation for their initiatives to raise awareness and implement solutions with a focus on waste recycling.

The work of Waste Recyclers Fiji Limited and the Pacific Recycling Foundation is exemplary in the waste management and recycling space.

As Fiji’s oldest streamlined recycling facility, it has continued to raise awareness on recycling, provide structured support to individuals or groups involved in informal waste picking in Fiji and the Pacific.

In keeping with the commitment of the Coalition Government to elevate our response to environmental degradation, we have created the new Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.

This Ministry will build and improve the synergies between our efforts to protect and conserve our local environment and manage the climate crisis.

Where we continue to fall short, as a nation, on these issues, is in relation to waste management and pollution control.

It is clear that we need to increase enforcement and remember that we must respect our land and urban areas and refrain from dumping and littering as if it is inconsequential.

We will review relevant legislation and enforcement strategies and seek to influence behavior more proactively.
We must ensure that civic pride guides our actions and eradicate this needless harm to our nation.

In terms of legislation, one way to promote recycling is through the proposed Container Deposit Regulations (CDR).

A draft set of the CDR regulations to enforce the recycling of bottles by manufacturers is with the Office of the Solicitor General for vetting and it is anticipated to be tabled in Cabinet for approval later this year.

Today as we gather to celebrate Global Recycling Day 2024, I have the distinct honour to commemorate the two national campaigns which I launched last year:

1. Wear a Lapel Pin –to support the recycling movement; and
2. Commemorate the 18th March as a National Plastic Free Day

I for one, will wear this pin proudly and will continue to advocate for responsible recycling.

QVS has a rich legacy of nurturing leaders in various fields of endeavour.

I am glad to see fellow alumni today to commemorate this special day and the launch of yet another necessary skill for the students, to learn and practice waste recycling.

Today, I wish to encourage current students and future leaders at QVS to carry forward this legacy of environmental consciousness and responsible waste management through the Pacific Recycling Foundation’s Recycling on the Go (ROG) Ambassadors Program, which will be launched today.

I am hopeful that the historic event today will inspire not only the QVS community but also the rest of the nation towards a sustainable future.

Our collective action, known as “solesolevaki” endures because it is effective.

Collective action has a transformative power especially when driven by a community like our QVS family.

I see today launching this institution, QVS as a beacon for sustainability and environmental leadership to foster generations of citizens and leaders committed to preserving Fiji’s natural beauty.

In closing I want to assure you all that the people’s coalition government recognizes the actions of individuals and businesses in recycling.

The people’s coalition government will continue to support initiatives which promotes recycling in Fiji.

And I will anticipate the support of QVS Alumni, Students and Families in the Pacific Recycling Foundation’s “National Plastic Free Day” and the “Lapel Pin Campaign”

With that, I wish you all:
– a happy Recycling Day,
– a happy “Plastic Free Day” and let’s make better choices as consumers,

and let’s continue to work together to increase recycling efforts and to keep our environment clean and waste free.

Thank You.

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