ZAGREB, September 25, 2019 – In her address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović highlighted global problems such as the pollution of oceans and seas, including the Adriatic Sea, which she described as a crucial asset and one of the greatest treasures for Croatia which earns 20% of its GDP off tourism.
The Croatian coast, which is annually visited by some 18 million tourists, is polluted by, among other things, plastic waste from Croatia’s southern neighbours.
“Croatian coastal areas, one of the world’s cleanest and most wondrous, are at times severely affected by poorly managed waste from our southern, neighbouring countries,” the president said in her 20-minute address which focused on the environment, in particular on the oceans and seas.
“From this spot I encourage all – please stop throwing waste into our oceans and seas. Our own future is at stake,” Grabar-Kitarović said.
“We cannot neglect further the severe implications on our nature and the significant economic losses that we are facing in the future,” she added.
The Croatian president underscored that marine litter was “a problem of increasing concern” that threatens the marine life in the oceans as well as in the Adriatic Sea.
The main topics on the agenda of the ongoing General Assembly are climate change, poverty eradication and good education.
Concerning the environmental topics, Grabar-Kitarović cited two positive examples of Croatians’ engagement in the preservation and facilitation of marine and coastal environmental recovery. In that regard, she praised the activities of the Split-based Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries.
“The renowned Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries in Split has been monitoring the Adriatic Sea since 1930 and its scientific activity encompasses very complex research in the fields of biological, chemical and physical oceanography, sedimentology, fisheries biology and aquaculture;” she said.
“Over a hundred scientists and experts are diligently working on the preservation of the sea as one of our greatest assets. One of their many projects involves the cooperation with fishermen: plastics and litter from the seafloor found in their fishing nets is collected and disposed of. A number of fishing ships are involved in the project and have so far collected over 50 tons of waste,” the Croatian president said.
The president also praised young environmental enthusiasts on the island of Zlarin who gathered the entire local community to start an action called “Take a break from plastic” last year.
“The goal was to make Zlarin the first Adriatic island free of single-use plastic and plastic waste within a year. Their action was local, but their efforts are indeed global,” she said, commending the people of Zlarin and supporters for having the vision and courage to transform their island community.
“Within just one year, the island has transformed. By signing a symbolic declaration, all residents, caterers and merchants have disposed of disposable plastics from everyday use. Today, children on Zlarin educate hundreds of visiting tourists that plastic is not welcome on their island. These are the children from Zlarin and they really deserve recognition.
“In this chamber here, we are running out of excuses for not following the example of the people of Zlarin and not doing the same globally. Let us make all of our communities just as responsible as the people of Zlarin. Let us not hesitate and be discouraged by past or present failures but rather provide strong leadership for our common success in the future,” Grabar-Kitarović said in her speech.
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