Feature Story

After the opening of the Qinghai-Tibet railway in 2006 the rapid increase in tourism in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau caused a significant increase in waste generation. This threatened both the grassland ecology of the plateau and the water quality of the Yangtze River. In an investigation, conducted by the Green River Environmental Protection Association, to study waste disposal and pollution trends at the source of the Yangtze River they found that waste was primarily thrown away or burnt in the open air.

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On the island of Barbados there is an organic movement to reduce the use of agrochemicals for food production (synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and growth hormones) which impact negatively on the groundwater supply and nearshore marine environment. Customer surveys have shown that there is a high demand for organic produce among the tourists and local population in Barbados. However, the production of organic produce falls well below the demand for it. Organic food production makes up less than 10 percent of national food production.

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Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are toxic, persistent, mobile and thus a global issue. POPs may include pesticides, industrial chemicals, or unwanted by-products of industrial processes or combustion. Organisms at the top of the food chain, including humans, usually accumulate the highest concentration of POPs over their lifetime. The evidence of detrimental effects of some POPs on living organisms, often on entire populations, demonstrates the threat to biodiversity and the potential for disruption at the ecosystem level.

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“When Cyclone Sally hit Rarotonga in 1987, I was 9 years old – I remember standing at the window watching the leaves and chunks of trees blowing past. The thing that really stands out in my memory, though, was the incredible unity amongst the community when cyclones came – although there was no written ‘plan’, people knew to come together and help prepare homes before the cyclone arrived, and then, afterward, everyone teamed up again to help with the clean-up and repair work. It was the same on all of the islands.

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“The Galápagos islands occupy a special place in the minds of people – what other place can claim to have had such an influence on the way we think about our natural world? Our island ecosystems are unique, not only because of emblematic species like the iguanas, tortoises and finches, but also because they are so isolated, unusual and fragile. At the same time, these islands are a premier tourist destination for wildlife viewing and diving, and this is an essential pillar of our economy – along with the farming and fishing that sustains our communities.

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Petit Verger Prison is a medium-security prison facility in Pointe aux Sables in Mauritius. The prison has both pre-release and post-release schemes for prisoners, in order to facilitate their rehabilitation within society. The University of Mauritius carried out a waste assessment study at the prison. The results of the study indicated that 52 percent of the total waste generated was yard waste, 38 percent was organic waste, and the rest were paper, plastics and metals. All of the waste primarily ended up in landfills.

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In Nepal, a total of 274 hospitals generate 10,520 tonnes of non-hazardous healthcare waste per year and 3,094 tonnes of hazardous medical waste (Government of Nepal, 2014). The waste was disposed of as regular city garbage, which presented a problem for municipal waste collectors. It was also burnt in incinerators which released persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as dioxin to the environment. Both of these practices are a threat to human health.

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The Kingdom of Bhutan is experiencing a high rate of urban population growth and rural to urban internal migration. Waste and pollution are major environmental concerns in Bhutan, caused in part by rapid urbanization, inadequate infrastructure, low public awareness and education on waste management issues, and rapid economic development activities such as construction. Increased waste generation threatens human health and Bhutan’s pristine natural environment.

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Skopje is the capital of and largest city in Republic of Macedonia, and is home to around 618,000 citizens. The city has a well-organized waste collection system but the waste is not segregated and the collected waste is dumped in landfills or burned. The NGO Training for Sustainable Development, known locally as ORT, noticed the problem of littering in the city streets, with particular concern for the numerous plastic bottles left unrecycled.

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The population in Techiman municipality relies on agriculture and approximately half of the households are involved in some form of agricultural activity. Pests and disease are a severe problem for agriculture in Ghana, and it is estimated that 45 percent of annual crops get destroyed because of this (National Development Planning Commission, 2010). Consequently, pesticides and herbicides are heavily used to control and eradicate crop pests.

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