During the event, participants discussed the holding of a Ministerial Conference which is set for September as members try to reach a global strategy aimed at ending marine litter and plastic pollution, with the ultimate goal of ensuring a future with clean seas.
Ta Dinh Thi, director general of the Vietnam Administration of Seas and Islands (VASI) under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, emphasised that now is the time for countries to unite to develop a cohesive global framework. Indeed, this should feature clear milestones, stakeholder roles, and responsibilities along with progress indicators to tackle trans-boundary marine litter and plastic pollution issues.
“Southeast Asia is in a unique position with a significant role to play here, and a new global agreement will provide the essential boost to our regional and national actions against the global plastic crisis," he stated.
Due to these challenges, the nation has adopted a development strategy to promote the marine-based economy whilst simultaneously protecting maritime environment and ecosystems. As such, "Preventing, controlling and significantly mitigating marine environmental pollution; being a regional pioneer in reducing ocean plastic waste" is now amongst the country’s objectives ahead for 2030.
Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has therefore called for transformational action to be implemented in an effort to put the brakes on plastic pollution.
She affirmed the UNEP’s readiness to support discussions among member states towards stronger global action on single-use plastics, while also calling on them and other relevant parties to perform the task of eliminating single-use plastics where possible.
According to organisers, a global agreement is needed in order to reach a consensus on the threat of marine litter. This should be done in a bid to unlock funding and provide the framework and impetus for action and change at local, national, regional, and international levels.
Over 120 countries globally have some form of legislation in place to regulate or ban the use of single-use plastics. In Africa a total of 34 out of 54 nations have instituted bans on single-use plastics, while the EU has also introduced a ban single-use plastics along with an export ban on unsorted plastic waste.
Despite these efforts, the flow of plastic into the ocean continues to occur and is predicted to nearly triple by 2040.