What goes around comes around.
The Philippines thanks the Permanent Mission of India for organizing this event, and the speakers for their insightful messages. Philippine commitment to environmental protection is as old as the republic and far antedated the worldwide movement. Support for a nationwide logging ban in the '50s is best measured by the fierce opposition it got in a Congress in the pockets of loggers. The ban was finally made official when there wasn't much forest left to keep. 20 years ago, we proclaimed June Environment Month-this is something we like doing when we can't get anything done. We proclaim it.
Today, commitment to a balanced and healthful ecology is yet another pillar of yet another Philippine Development Plan. But the scourge of convenience runs unabated: in the scourge of plastic. Plastic is the handiest thing ever invented; the most convenient because the most disposable-and yet the hardest thing to get rid off.
While deep inroads against it have been made-plastic bags are banned in most localities-non-plastic alternatives aren't as convenient: starting with straws that melt in your mouth. Refusing to provide plastic shopping bags at the cash register is seen as another way to shortchange customers. Proposals to encourage and subsidize alternatives, even to proscribe and criminalize the importation, manufacture and use of plastics are rife but the problem is too overwhelming; coming as it does, not only from within the country, but even more from without-borne on the bright blue ocean circling the earth; speckled with gleaming plastic foam. A definitive solution is nowhere in sight because it is not something that can be imposed but must be adopted: a habit near impossible to form. Nonetheless, efforts must start the day before yesterday. Plastics are killing off life in the oceans. There is a dystopian Taiwanese novel of a world with archipelagoes of plastic garbage spawning a race of plastic humanity.
Each of us in this room, and each of the countries we represent can contribute significantly toward this endeavor; going plastic-free starts with the individual. It cannot be stressed enough that individual efforts though small create significant ripple effects. The roles of communities, government and corporations are crucial, and it has had effect in one place and another. But the world is a ball and what goes around comes around-to thousands of miles of our coast. And nothing more relentlessly than non-biodegradable plastic garbage. Thank you.