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Addressing marine pollution challenges in the region

Addressing marine pollution challenges in the region
Regional Forum on Managing Marine Plastic Pollution: Policy Initiatives in ASEAN Countries
5 – 6 December 2017
Jakarta, Indonesia

The United Nations Oceans Conference in June and other efforts at the global level in recent times acknowledge marine litter and microplastics as a serious form of marine pollution that needs to be addressed. Global plastics production in 2014 alone was estimated to be more than 300 million tonnes of which between 5-13 million tonnes were washed into the oceans.

Plastic debris and microplastics are transported by ocean currents across regions and water bodies. Whether caused by poor waste and wastewater management, accidental losses, or illegal dumping, their leakage into the oceans pose serious environmental, social, and economic consequences by adversely impacting marine life and ecosystems, sea transport, fisheries, tourism, recreation, and ultimately the human well-being.

Six ASEAN countries i.e., Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar have been identified to be among 20 top global polluters. Coastal and marine waters in the region provide essential needs for the livelihood of the people, and hence ASEAN leaders resolved to foster enhanced conservation and sustainable management of the coastal and marine ecosystems. This is also reflected in the Blueprint for the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC Blueprint) (2009-2015) that serves as the guiding mandate of ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment (AWGCME).

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Guest and speakers at the forum

Acknowledging this, the Regional Forum, organised by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) in collaboration with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany Jakarta addressed data needs and gaps on trends and impacts of marine litter, focused on increasing awareness and knowledge gaps in the region, as well as recommendations to prevent and reduce marine plastic pollution through the implementation of concrete measures at the regional level.

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During the forum

Speakers included representatives from the Indonesian Ministry of Environmental and Forestry, Indonesian Ministry of Ocean and Fisheries, UN Environment Asia Pacific, ASEAN Secretariat, Ministry of Environment of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Nature Conservancy Indonesia, World Bank Singapore office, UNESCO Jakarta, WWF Indonesia, and others. Ms. Cheryl Rita Kaur, Head of the Centre for Coastal and Marine Environment represented MIMA as an invited speaker at the forum.

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Cheryl Rita from MIMA (second from right) during the session where discussions focused on case examples, best practices, and lessons learned

The forum discussed comprehensive recommendations based on sound scientific information to facilitate effective policy making at the regional, national and local levels on the prevention and reduction of marine plastic pollution, highlighted projects and best practices in monitoring and management, and lessons learned on prevention and mitigation measures in the region.

Marine litter is a transboundary issue, requiring collaborative actions from governments, industry players and consumers. Strengthened international cooperation is necessary to be in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on oceans. This was also emphasised at the Third Meeting of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA 3) from 4-6 December 2017 in Nairobi.

MIMA is proud to be at the forefront of the issue involving policy initiatives and work plan to address coastal and marine litter pollution and will continue to actively contribute in the area.

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