The first Experts Working Group on Marine Plastic Debris, held by the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), took place on 2 and 3 September 2021. The working group is jointly hosted by ERIA, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), and the IGES Centre Collaborating with UNEP on Environmental Technologies (CCET).
The Experts Working Group comprises experts from various academic disciplines related to marine plastic research, who advise ERIA's Regional Knowledge Centre for Marine Plastic Debris (RKC-MPD) with the aim of contributing to a broader regional network of knowledge creation and management. It also focuses on data-driven policymaking, emerging regional issues, as well as research and analysis related to marine plastics pollution and circular economy in the ASEAN+3 region.
On 2 September, Mr. Takayuki Shigematsu, Deputy Director of the Office of Policy Against Marine Plastic Pollution in the Ministry of Environment of Japan (MOEJ), the main financial supporter of the RKC-MPD, and Dr. Vong Sok, Head of the Environment Division of the ASEAN Secretariat, each affirmed the importance of the Experts Working Group's close collaboration with other ongoing regional initiatives. These include working groups at ASEAN, namely the ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment (AWGCME) and the ASEAN Working Group on Chemical and Waste (AWGCW).
On both 2 and 3 September, the experts discussed several topics, including the RKC-MPD's scope of work, creation of metadata by marine plastic researchers in the ASEAN+3 region, plastics value chain data gaps and the way forward, and finally, COVID-19 and the shift in plastics consumption patterns. The Experts Working Group will gather twice a year, with other activities planned in between the meetings.
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