WELCOME to SEA of Solutions 2019
SEA of Solutions 2019 is bringing together 600 participants from 45 countries, with 115 speakers in 25 sessions and 25 Exhibition Booths, highlighting solutions to prevent marine plastic pollution.
Setting the stage for the SEA of Solutions, Day 1: Solutions with science, considered how far the science has taken us – what do we know and what have we achieved? – and what we still need the science to tell us in order to successfully tackle marine plastic pollution.
"The Asia Pacific region is poised to lead changes in global perception of marine plastic litter and its solutions. An integrated approach adopted by many stakeholders should be at the forefront of informed action. SEA of Solutions 2019 has created a platform for dialogue and collaboration."
Nadya Hutagalung, UN Goodwill Ambassador
“Through sharing and though partnerships we can leverage these efforts more effectively, moving from the incremental to the transformational - towards less plastic wasted.”
Isabelle Louis, Deputy Regional Director, UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
"It cannot be denied that pollution from waste, especially plastic waste, is one of the most cumbersome and complicated environment and sustainable development challenges at all levels.”
Wijarn Simachaya, President, Thailand Environment Institute
Dr. Wijarn Simachaya, President, Thailand Environment Institute, highlighted the many interventions undertaken by Government of Thailand to combat plastic pollution. He expressed the critical nature of policy and regulatory frameworks for driving concerted action for comprehensive solutions. The ASEAN community has adopted the Bangkok Declaration for combating marine plastics and circular economy in the ASEAN region. Thailand has adopted a 20-year (2017-2036) roadmap for sustainable production and consumption of plastics.
Isabelle Louis, Deputy Director UN Environment Programe (UNEP), Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific highlighted the need for an integrated action of collective responses to the challenge of marine plastic litter. This collaboration of all stakeholders - from science, business, finance, investment, local and national governments, communities and individuals – can lead actions. SEA of Solutions 2019 is highly strategic, given the contribution of Asian countries towards marine plastic litter, but also an opportunity for action. Making SEA of Solutions an annual event will contribute by providing a platform for bringing together informed stakeholders for serious deliberations on this vital issue.
"Expanding the geographical scope of the research to ASEAN +3 will improve the research to reflect the real status of the issues given the nature of marine plastic problems as transboundary issues."
Yuke Ling Tay, Research Assistant, CIL, NUS
"There is a need to revise and update the database and repository of marine debris research in South-East Asia. We need to analyze and summarize what is known and what is not known yet. This mapping will illustrate the ongoing research and the gaps within the research."
Youna Lyons, Senior Research Fellow, National University of Singapore (NUS)
"Current research mainly focuses on the distribution and abundance of plastic waste, while the source and transportation pathways of plastic waste need more consideration, for a more sensitive understanding of risk.”
Wenxi Zhu, Head, Programme Specialist, IOC-WESTPAC
This session considered how men and women are differently impacted by plastic pollution, both in the waste management sector and also as consumers - since women are usually responsible for households. The roles of women and men in waste management are different; women are affected by structural inequalities and trapped at the bottom of the hierarchy of the waste management industry. It is necessary to acknowledge this aspect in any interventions we put in place.
"It’s important to consider the intersectionality between war, climate change and waste management, as immigrants are the major workforce in informal waste collection.....As waste management becomes more mechanised, we find that women’s value and participation is reduced."
Kabir Arora, National Coordinator, Alliance of Indian Wastepickers
“Waste management workers are often vulnerable – they are frequently migrants –because it’s a low entry barrier industry”
Sumangali Krishnan, Chief Business Officer, GA Circular, Singapore
“We need to look at how the informal sector is impacting waste management. So when we talk to governments we need them to know where in the waste management system the informal sector comes in.”
Natalie Harms, Associate Programme Officer, COBSEA, UNEP
“We are not doing enough. Even if there are policies in place to support informal waste pickers – who are mainly women. We are not valuing plastic, we are not valuing waste, we are not valuing women.’
May Thazin Aung, Research Associate, Stockholm Environment Institute
During the session, the report Marine plastic litter in East Asian Seas: Gender, human rights and economic dimensions was launched. This report provides insights on the gender, human rights and economic dimensions of marine plastic litter to inform project design and activities and to ensure a fair, equitable and ethically-sound course of action, that leads to more effective, appropriate and sustainable outcomes in the longer term. The analysis highlights initial findings and existing knowledge gaps and provides recommendations for more equitable decision making, while recognizing the need to strengthen the evidence base on issues discussed. This study was prepared by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) under the SEA circular initiative implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA), with support from the Swedish Government.
“In 2018, the total international trade of plastic waste reached 7.3 million tons, when three years back it was 14 million tons – it has reduced by more than 40%.”
Michikazu Kojima, Senior Economist, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN (ERIA)
“It is not only our role to have coordinating agencies and better regulation. Cooperation at the regional and global level is important to solve this issue."
Jayaprakash Murulitharan, Principal Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change, Malaysia
“Only 9% of global plastic is being recycled. We lack a functioning market for second-hand materials... Approximately 5-20% of the plastic scrap in the global south has no market value”
Maria Tsakona, Senior Expert Waste Management, GRID Arendal
“We believe that if we work together, we can construct a prosperous, clean and beautiful world. Investments in developing proper circular economies is the way to go forward in decreasing the illegal trade of plastic waste.”
Chaowat Sukulworawit, Thai Customs Department
"You may wonder why the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) gets involved in discussions about environmental issues, such as the trade in plastic waste; the truth of the matter is that this sector is vulnerable to transnational organized crime and we believe that also the institutions of the criminal justice sector have a role to play to improve the legality of this sector.”
Giovanni Broussard, Regional Programme Coordinator, UNODC
"Establishing baselines enables monitoring the effectiveness and impact of policy interventions, whilst analyzing sources, distribution and flows of litter can inform effective interventions. Data collection needs to look not only at beaches near tourist sites, cities with high population density etc. but should support us to understand the overall litter situation nationally and globally to inform action."
Qamar Schuyler, Research Scientist, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Association (CSIRO)
“Estimating the sources of marine litter is highly complex. Japan has developed material flow analyses and is supporting monitoring efforts in the region. Focussing on the comparability of data and collecting data on transboundary movements is important. This requires international cooperation and harmonization of monitoring methods.”
Tatsuya Abe, Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan
"Indonesia is collecting national baseline data on marine litter with support from international partners. Calculation of baseline data will help to improve measures to reduce plastic pollution in line with national targets."
Nani Hendiarti, Director, Marine science and technology, Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs (CMMA)
"We have commensed a new Japanese-funded project using drones to collect information on pollution along shorelines. Collaboration among stakeholder and scientists is key to improve data collection in this very crowded space, to reduce redundancies and overlaps. Involving local people for data collection and sharing is key to driving change."
Suchana Chavanich, Associate Professor, Chulalongkorn University
“The Basel Convention is one of the most comprehensive instruments we have on managing marine litter. We need to consider the amendments coming into force in January 2021, and use this framework to forge partnerships for solutions to plastic waste."
Karen Raubenheimer, Lecturer, University of Woolongong
“Five of the countries in SEA produced more than half of the marine litter in the ocean. Yet, under the regional framework and regional mechanisms, serious action is taking place.”
Vu Hai Dang, NUS, CIL
Marine plastic pollution has incentivzed a wider political movement to mainstream elements of a more circular economy into society.”
Yasuhiko Hotta, Programme Director, Sustainable Consumption and Production, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES)
NOWPAP shared a Regional Seas experience in the development of a regional action plan on marine litter based on initial assessment, with findings of ongoing efforts in the context of the action plan including regular regional reporting on status and trends as well as a range of guidelines and tools developed through regional activity centres.
Global instruments such as the Basel Convention, and efforts mandated by the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) provide opportunities to advance action in the region through partnerships and collaboration. There are opportunities to exploit synergies between existing and emerging regional frameworks, such as the COBSEA Regional Action Plan MALI and the ASEAN framework and action plan (under development). However, countries may engage in several international processes, often from different ministries or with different focal points. Managing this engagement requires strong national level coordination and policy cohesion to support international efforts. New regional centres such as the Regional Capacity Centre for Clean Seas in Bali and other centres (under development) can contribute to specific aspects of this work. The trade in plastic waste illustrates the need for regional cooperation, common frameworks, standards and harmonized approaches.
"Since start of PBDE production and use in 1970s a range of frameworks have been established to address the phase-out and management of hazardous materials. In China, both dry (light separation) and wet (density separation) methods are used for separation of polymers."
Chen Yuan, Basel and Stockholm Convention Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific (BCRC-SCRC China)
"BPA and other endocrine disrupters are believed to cause cancer and other health impacts. Research on exposure to additives from plastic ingestion in biota shows that chemicals are absorbed into tissue."
Hideshige Takada, Professor, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology
Marine plastic pollution is chemical pollution. Moving to a circular economy will also require addressing/phasing out hazardous chemicals (e.g. POPs) contained in products and a lifecycle assessment of the impact of plastic products.
Roland Weber, International consultant, Stockholm Convention Secretariat
The challenge of marine litter cuts across all aspects of society. Therefore, solutions must be integrated. There are many examples of valuable research and action in the region. It is necessary to consider how data can be managed better, since good data and good knowledge drives good solutions. It is valuable to acknowledge that there are data gaps on ecological impacts, leaching, health and chemicals - in order to move forward policy action globally.
There is an urgent requirement to shift from incremental change to transformative action. Good science forms the foundation of good solutions.