On 7 January, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote data-driven policy-making and knowledge dissemination over the next 5 years.
Though the MoU covers comprehensive collaboration between the two institutions, the initial focus is on promotion of circular economy, such as prevention of marine plastic pollution. The first collaborative project, “Data Driven Policy Research Programme on Marine Plastic Debris”, will be implemented jointly through ERIA’s Regional Knowledge Centre for Marine Plastic Debris (RKC-MPD). Within the framework of this institutional collaboration, an IGES staff member has recently been seconded to ERIA as a project coordinator.
The Southeast Asian region has increased its resource consumption in recent years due to its high population density and rapid economic growth. Motivated by the alarming recognition that Southeast Asia and East Asia have become the biggest contributors to marine plastic pollution, the RKC-MPD was established by ERIA with financial support from the Government of Japan in October 2019. The RKC-MPD serves as an information clearinghouse on marine plastic pollution in ASEAN+3 countries, aiming to facilitate national and regional cooperation by promoting relevant policies and good practices among the member states.
IGES has longstanding expertise in the areas of circular economy and resource efficiency, and experience in many international efforts including policy advisory activities for Southeast Asian countries on marine debris, along with its technical contributions to G20 process. ERIA has contributed to conducting research and policy analyses to facilitate the building of the ASEAN Economic Community, promoting wide economic integration and sustainable development in East Asia, and narrowing development gaps in the region.
IGES President Kazuhiko Takeuchi stated, “IGES is eager to collaborate with ERIA to jointly address the pressing regional problem of marine plastic litter in the region. Through this collaboration, my hope is for IGES to contribute, more broadly, to the promotion of a more circular economy and sustainable policy making.”
“We have identified IGES as our valuable partner given the rich expertise they have in policy recommendations towards more sustainable consumption and production patterns in Asia. I hope that this MoU will be the beginning of a fruitful institutional collaboration towards the development of ASEAN and the East Asia region” said Hidetoshi Nishimura, President of ERIA.
The challenge of marine plastic pollution is emblematic of the globalised world in which we live, where one country alone cannot provide long-lasting solutions to a collective problem. Being aware of the need to tackle this issue regionally, with the full engagement and support of the ASEAN+3 member states, IGES and ERIA will utilise their expertise to formulate regional policy recommendations by promoting circular economy as the key to sustainability in the region.