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Houston cooperates on homelessness, Indonesia protects employees at sea


For views on leadership, read what Canada is doing for the plastic problem, how a Liberian foundation is tracking women in government, and how Kazakh voters are limiting the powers of presidents.

1. Canada

Canada is phasing out single-use plastics to rein in pollution. The manufacturing and importing of difficult-to-recycle plastics will be prohibited this December, while a ban on the sale of single-use plastics will go into effect a year later to give businesses time to use up stocks. Six categories of plastic are part of the legislation, including checkout bags, cutlery, stir sticks, and certain straws. The government estimates the measure will reduce plastic waste by 1.3 million metric tons (1.43 tons) over the next decade, “keeping our communities and the places we love clean,” as Steven Guilbeault, minister of environment and climate change, put it.

Press Association/AP/File

Sixteen million plastic straws are used daily in Canada. Their manufacture, import, sale, and export will be phased out by 2025.

Why We Wrote This

Our progress roundup highlights two approaches to change: In Houston, many different organizations worked together to help vulnerable people. In Indonesia, a lawsuit forced the government to act.

Single-use plastics, which account for 40% of the plastic produced globally, are often used for only a matter of minutes but can remain in the environment for hundreds of years. The United Nations endorsed the world’s first international resolution to curb plastic pollution worldwide earlier this year. But given the scale of the problem, environmentalists worry governments are not moving fast enough. “The government needs to shift into high gear by expanding the ban list and cutting overall plastic production,” said Sarah King, head of Greenpeace Canada’s oceans and plastics campaign.
Source: The Washington Post

2. United States

Twenty-five thousand previously unhoused people in Houston were moved into homes over the past decade. The city used to have one of the highest rates per capita of homelessness in the country and a jumbled and ineffective response system that wasted millions of public dollars. The number of homeless individuals has dropped 64% since public and private administrators together changed tack and adopted a coordinated “housing first” approach.  

The strategy is based on the idea that underlying issues like substance misuse, mental health, and unemployment can only be addressed meaningfully once the most vulnerable individuals have a safe place to live. While critics of the model point out that it prioritizes cases of chronic homelessness and may sideline behavioral intervention, the approach’s success is well documented. The vast majority of those provided houses or apartments through Houston’s program have remained housed two years later.

Importantly, the strategy brought service providers, aid organizations, and corporations that had previously operated in separate silos and even competed for funding into active cooperation. “The bottom line is that nearly everybody in Houston involved in homelessness got together around what works,” said Annise Parker, the former mayor of Houston. “That’s our secret sauce.”
Source: The New York Times

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