|SOGWIPO, South Korea - Garbage and untreated sewage threaten the beauty of small island nations that rely on tourism, environmental officials said.|
Rising sea levels, over-fishing and water shortages already trouble the Maldives, Barbados, Tuvalu and 42 other member states of the association of small island states.
\"It has tremendous health and tremendous economic impact,\" said the head of United Nations Environment Program\'s Global Program of Action on the marine environment, Veerle Vandeweerd.
She told a news briefing that the small island nations face growing problems with solid and liquid waste as well as \"waste from construction done to build tourist resorts as close as possible to the sea.\"
Plastic waste and beer cans cover shorelines of the island nations and an estimated one in twenty people who go into the sea around the world get sick because of untreated waste water, a U.N. environment program report said.
\"It is estimated that on some islands in the Caribbean Sea, 80 percent of the waste water is discharged untreated into the coastal zones,\" Vandeweerd said.
The chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), Jagdish Koonjul, said island nations cannot afford the kind of waste management strategies adopted in industrialized countries.
\"To have the strategy, we need funding and access to technology,\" Koonjul said.
\"What we are looking for is support from the international community that would provide us with access to technology in order for us to recycle waste and produce the minimum volume for disposal,\" he said.
The member countries of AOSIS will be meeting in Mauritius in August to address their vulnerability to pollution and global warming, a decade after they formalized their concerns in a key U.N. report calling for national and international action.
Story by Jack Kim
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE