At the 13th International Conference on Sustainable Waste Management & Circular Economy & IPLA Global Forum 2023, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) and International Society of Waste Management, Air and Water (ISWMAW) organised a session on "Marine Littering & Micro Plastic in Asia and the Pacific - Regional & National Rules, Action Plans and Present Status." in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment, Japan. The session brought together a diverse group of experts, policymakers, and environmental activists to address the pressing issue of marine litter and plastic pollution.
Dr. Noriko Tamiya-Hase, the chair of the session and a representative from the Ministry of Environment, Japan, opened the session by introducing Japan's comprehensive approach to combat marine litter and plastic pollution which includes specific targets for plastics related to coastal environmental protection and enhancing plastic circularity. Dr. Hase highlighted the importance of a science-based approach, including monitoring plastics in the environment, data harmonisation, developing an inventory of plastic leakage, and conducting bio-ecological risk assessments. She emphasised Japan's role in global data harmonisation and the development of comprehensive databases. She also stressed the importance of harmonised data collection and monitoring while highlighting the session's primary focus on promoting science-based decision-making at the national and local levels.
Insights into the environmental risk assessment of microplastics in Thailand's Chi River Basin were provided by Dr. Jutamas Kaewsuk from Mahidol University. Her presentation covered various aspects, including the presence of microplastics in water and sediment, their impact on aquatic species, and the identification of different polymer types within microplastics. Dr. Kaewsuk emphasised the ecological risks associated with microplastics and called upon policymakers to take these risks into account in their decision-making processes.
Following Dr. Kaewsuk's presentation, Prof. Sadhan Kumar Ghosh from the International Society of Waste Management, Air and Water (ISWMAW), who served as one of the co-chairs, emphasised the significance of decision-making regarding microplastics in Asia and the Pacific. He commended the presence of guiding models for reducing plastic waste and highlighted the considerable progress achieved in addressing plastic pollution. Prof. Ghosh expressed gratitude for the support from the Ministry of Environment Japan and pointed out the value of multinational participation in the discussion as a valuable learning opportunity. He also acknowledged the challenges in assessing plastic pollution, particularly in countries like India, emphasising the critical need for effective management systems.
The session also featured a presentation by Dr. Vongvachira Ovararin, Deputy Mayor of Nakhon Si Thammarat City Municipality in Thailand, showcased local efforts in effective solid waste management and pollution reduction. Dr. Vu Dinh Hieu from VEMSI who emphasised Vietnam's National Action Plan on plastic pollution and underlined the significance of comprehensive national strategies. Ms. Sean Bophaphal of COMPOSTED, Cambodia, brought attention to the grassroots initiatives, including river cleanups and PET bottle recycling, demonstrating the impact of community engagement in environmental conservation.
Providing a broader outlook, Dr. Ruben Bibas from the OECD shared insights into the complexities of plastic pollution in ASEAN plus three countries. He highlighted the need for better data on plastic flows and diverse policy approaches. In her role as co-chair of the session, Ms. Chochoe Devaporihartakula from IGES highlighted the significant strides made by ASEAN countries in addressing marine litter and plastic pollution through national and regional action plans. She highlighted the challenges faced by these countries, including ambitious targets and issues with data harmonisation. Ms. Devaporihartakula also emphasised the importance of global negotiation platforms such as INC on plastic pollution as vital for fostering international cooperation, standardising policies, and mobilising financial resources. Her key message was the need for collaborative efforts and active participation in global platforms to effectively tackle the pressing issue of plastic pollution.
Mr. Ran Yagasa from IGES turned the spotlight on the G20 Report on Actions Against Marine Plastic Litter. He emphasised the G20's collective commitment to reducing marine plastic litter through initiatives like the Osaka Blue Ocean Vision. He highlighted progress in national policies to reduce single-use plastics but noted challenges in data collection, implementation and monitoring. Mr. Yagasa's insights provided a crucial global perspective on combating marine plastic pollution which also contributes to a better understanding of the challenges and efforts in this regard.
The session, facilitated by Dr. Premakumara Jagath Dickella Gamaralalage from IGES, not only shed light on the various facets of marine litter and plastic pollution but also emphasised the need for actionable steps and collaborative efforts. As the session concluded, there was a consensus on the urgent need for a coordinated, science-based approach with the emphasis on the importance of data collection, public education, policy implementation, and international cooperation.
K J Somaiya Institute of Management, Mumbai, India (Hybrid Event)
Programme Manager, Environmental Safeguards
Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES)
|SS17: Day 2-25; Room C303; 11.30am – 01.30pm (IST) [online]
|Dr. Noriko Tamiya- Hase, Ministry of the Environment, Japan
|Dr. Jutamas Kaewsuk_Mahidol University, Thailand
|Dr. Vongvachira Ovararin_Nakhon Si Thamarat City Municipality, Thailand
|Dr. Vu Dinh Hieu_Vietnam Environmental and Marine Sciences Institute (VEMSI)
|Ms. Sean Bophaphal_COMPOSTED, Cambodia
|Dr. Ruben Bibas_OECD
|Ms. Chochoe Devaporihartakula, IGES
|Mr. Ran Yagasa, IGES