The Italian and British embassies in Qatar, and the Unesco Office for the GCC Countries and Yemen, in collaboration with the Doha Environmental Actions Project (Deap), held a beach clean-up event at the Unesco World Heritage Site of Al Zubarah on Sunday.
The event was attended by Italian ambassador Alessandro Prunas, British ambassador Jon Wilks, Unesco regional director Anna Paolini, and Partnerships of the Arab Youth Climate Movement Qatar (AYCM) associate director Reem al-Sahlawi, in addition to other volunteers.
The clean-up drive was a joint effort to help preserve Qatar’s natural resources and rich heritage, in the framework of the #KeepQatarClean campaign launched by Qatar Museums chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and also as a way to raise awareness on the serious damage caused by plastic pollution and littering to the environment and wildlife.
Every year more than 8mn tonnes of plastic waste enter the oceans around the world.
“World Heritage sites are of outstanding universal value and I am pleased that the campaign includes the beach area of al Zubarah to contribute to its preservation,” Paolini said in a press statement. “This initiative takes an even greater importance as the United Nations Ocean Decade of which Unesco is partner just started with the scope to assure sustainability of our oceans.”
“Promoting a plastic free ocean is a common moral responsibility and start with civic education and community initiatives as this one,” she added.
Deap director Jose Saucedo said: “Plastic pollution is a global issue, we need to focus on what we can do to help mitigate the problem.”
“In one hour, we collected 850kg of trash, that not only illustrates the magnitude of the problem, but it serves as an example on how the local community can have a positive impact on the protection of the environment,” he added.
Saucedo said: “Educating and motivating future generations to respect nature, and encouraging people to actively participate in the clean-up efforts of our natural landscapes and historical sites, is part of what we need to do.”
“The current global climate emergency demands immediate action and co-ordination of the international response, but it also requires local engagement against climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss,” the Deap official said.
Italian ambassador Prunas said: “As members of a community, we all can play a crucial role in finding local solutions to global issues affecting the Earth.
“Awareness and commitment are essential to leading the ecological transition of our societies and ensuring the sustainability of our life on the planet.
“These are indeed top priorities on the Italian Presidency’s agenda for the G20 forum, which is aimed – among other objectives – at encouraging a switch towards renewable energies and green technologies.”
This year Italy and the UK have a great responsibility in leading the change by co-chairing in Glasgow the 26th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26), a key milestone in the global fight against climate change, with Italy hosting also the Pre-COP26 Summit in Milan.
“I am confident that the leadership of Italy and the UK, together with likeminded partners such as Qatar and in the framework of a comprehensive strategy co-ordinated by the UN, can make a real difference in accelerating the process of change,” Prunas said.
British ambassador Wilks stressed that: “Protecting the environment in all aspects is a common responsibility that calls on all of us to play a part.
“As co-hosts of COP26 in Glasgow in November, the British embassy Doha is very pleased to join the Italian embassy to contribute to today’s valuable effort to preserve this Unesco World Heritage Site.
“The problems we’ve seen here today with non-biodegradables and other litter are of course global challenges that we must all work to tackle and we are glad to be able to assist in this small way here in Doha today.”
“The UK looks forward to working closely with the Italian and the Qatari governments in the run up to COP26 as Qatar refines and develops its Nationally Determined Contribution to emissions reduction,” Wilks said. “We also look forward to engaging with Qatari civil society at grassroots level in tandem with another of our partners here today, the AYCM.”
AYCM official Al-Sahlawi said: “As a grassroots, community-oriented environmental organisation, the AYCM fully supports the #keepqatarclean campaign under the leadership of HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and the efforts of the co-hosts of COP26 and Deap in this campaign.
“Reversing the damage and eco-system degradation caused by plastic and waste pollution requires civil society and government collaboration in every stage, from raising awareness to shaping and introducing policies that can preempt problems, regulating industries and encouraging conscious consumer behaviour.”