Mauritius sets goals to curb the triple planetary crisis

The Republic of Mauritius is a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) in the Indian Ocean, located off the eastern coast of Africa. The country is situated in an active tropical cyclone basin, exposing it to disasters and climate risks.

Temperatures and sea levels in Mauritius are rising at a faster rate than global averages, and the country is also facing accelerated coastal erosion and coral bleaching.

As Mauritius adapts to the triple planetary crisis, its government is making strong commitments and supporting important projects to protect the environment and bolster climate resilience.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) spoke with the Honourable Kavydass Ramano, Minister of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change, about environmental issues in Mauritius.

What are the major environmental priorities for Mauritius?

Hon. Kavydass Ramano, Minister of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change, Republic of Mauritius
Photo Credit: Teodor Kuduschiev/ Unsplash

Hon. Kavydass Ramano: The Republic of Mauritius’ most pressing environmental issues are climate change and disasters, environmental pollution – including waste disposal and transboundary plastic waste – and coastal degradation.

According to the World Risk Report 2021, Mauritius was classified as the 51st most exposed country to natural hazard. The UN report SIDS in Numbers 2017 projects that Mauritius will become a water-stressed country by 2025, barely three years from now. 

In recent years, Mauritius has experienced episodes of prolonged droughts, flash floods and cyclones with high intensities comparable to Category-5 hurricanes.

With rapid economic development over the past years, many key sectors, like transport, manufacturing and construction, have experienced rapid growth. However, these developments have placed additional pressure on the island’s limited resources.

Moreover, the impacts of the triple planetary crisis are threatening our hard-earned development, impacting sustainable development and weakening our country’s ability to effectively respond to emerging environmental challenges.

How is Mauritius addressing environmental challenges?

KR: The country aspires to become “an inclusive, high income and green Mauritius, forging ahead together”. The Government is designing new strategic measures that will enable the country to leapfrog to a cleaner, greener, environmentally sustainable, climate-change resilient, low-emission and circular economy.

The Ministry of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change developed a 10-year policy and strategy approved by the Government in May 2022.

The Master Plan defines a new mindset and approach to business, strategic partnerships, and governmental cooperation through holistic policies for the environment. It includes an updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), introduction of regulations banning non-biodegradable single-use plastic products, formulation of a solid waste management strategy and development of strategies to address vehicular emissions.

In addition, the Government is investing more than US$15 million in the construction of drains and coastal rehabilitation programmes for priority eroded sites.

What are some commitments Mauritius is making to address the triple planetary crisis?

Mauritius is committed to strengthening its resilience to the climate crisis, embarking on a low-emission pathway and completely phasing out coal in electricity generation before 2030.

Despite an insignificant contribution to the global greenhouse gas emissions, our commitment is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 and to achieve 60 per cent of green energy in our energy mix by 2030.

To promote the nature-based solutions approach, the mangrove propagation programme aims to support adaptation measures in our coastal zones, while also supporting women in these regions to sustain the livelihood of their families and communities.

The Ministry of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change is implementing several schemes to encourage sustainable lifestyles and green businesses, including small -and medium-sized enterprises.

What lessons can other countries learn from Mauritius?

KR: As a vulnerable Small Island Developing State, adaptation to the climate crisis is a top priority for the Government. Despite the challenging economic situation and the COVID pandemic, the Government’s updated NDC has taken the firm commitment of providing an unconditional support of 35 per cent share of the total financial needs, amounting to US$2.3 billion. The remaining 65 per cent share will depend on crucially needed support from international sources.

Mauritius pays its full share of the Environment Fund, supporting UNEP’s work to address the triple planetary crisis. How has UNEP’s work supported Mauritius?

KR: We recognize that by ourselves, we cannot achieve our country’s objectives and attend to transboundary issues.

As a Small Island Developing State with limited technical, technological and financial resources, Mauritius has relied on external support to comply with its relevant commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

For the past two decades, UNEP has been one of the most active intergovernmental organizations in the provision of technical support and access to financial resources. It is critical that parties support UNEP for their own benefit. 

Its expertise has catalysed the formulation of policies, preparation of national communications, implementation of projects, capacity-building and awareness-raising. This has built stronger networking among governments, civil society, academia and the private sector, enhancing resilience and promoting a low-emission pathway of our country.

What is Mauritius’ call for action on the environment to other nations? 

KR: The importance of addressing the triple planetary crisis in a timely fashion cannot be overlooked. The planet is undoubtedly in a state of environmental emergency, and we are running out of time.

There is a dire need to decouple economic and development dimensions whilst mainstreaming circularity and sustainability. 

The survival of mankind will depend on collaboration among the global nations and mobilization of funds from developed countries. However, it is worrying to note that the pace at which SIDS like Mauritius are getting the support for enabling projects such as the National Adaptation Plan is coming at a snail’s pace. Therefore, access to funding should be eased out and priority support be considered for developing country Parties such as SIDS and Africa.

The Environment Fund is the core source of flexible funds to UNEP. It provides the bedrock for the work worldwide as UNEP supports countries to deliver on the environmental dimensions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and to address the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss and pollution and waste. To support the Environment Fund, each of the 193 Member States is encouraged to contribute their full share, as represented by the indicative scale of contributions, established in 2002 by the Member States themselves. The scale considers each country individually and distributes responsibility collectively. Investing in UNEP means investing in the health of the planet and its people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *