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Norway to support ASEAN in combating marine plastic debris

The transport of plastics from sources on land via rivers to the world’s oceans is a global environmental challenge. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN, are building local capacity for reducing plastic pollution, and Norway has taken a leading role in supporting ASEAN’s endeavors in combating plastic pollution through a new program.

To support ASEAN’s endeavours in combating marine plastic debris, the Government of Norway officially launched the ASEAN-Norway Cooperation Project on Local Capacity Building for Reducing Plastic Pollution in the ASEAN Region (ASEANO) in Jakarta, Indonesia, December 9th 2019.

The ASEAN countries have experienced a rapid industrialization during the past decades, followed by economic growth and improved quality of life. The material consumption has increased drastically, whereas the development of waste management infrastructure has been inadequate. Transportation of waste from land-based sources by rivers is one of the main culprits behind the marine plastic waste challenge, but plastic litter also has impacts on livelihoods, environment and infrastructure before it reaches the ocean. Mismanagement of plastic waste potentially leads to serious consequences for the marine environment, an issue that can only be solved through cross-sectoral, international collaborations.

ASEANO will support the implementation of the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in ASEAN Region and the ASEAN Framework of Action on Marine Debris. The new initiative aims to enhance cooperation with a range of stakeholders, both formal and informal, to improve plastic management practices along the whole plastic value chain, and to contribute to meeting sound reduction targets through capacity-building and knowledge-sharing. The project will also develop cost-effective and standardized methods of monitoring plastic waste in rivers and identify key sources of plastic leakage to develop targeted responses. ASEANO will initially focus on selected pilot catchments in Indonesia and the Philippines, with plans of expanding to Vietnam and possibly other ASEAN countries. The knowledge developed will be relevant and transferable to other catchments in the ASEAN region, and will help the ASEAN countries to meet sound reduction targets both nationally and regionally.

ASEANO is a regional capacity building project led by the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies Indonesia (CSEAS), in close collaboration with Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) and the ASEAN secretariat, under the purview of the endorsing ASEAN sectoral body ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment (AWGCME). The project is funded by the Norwegian Development Program to Combat Marine Litter and Microplastics for the period 2019-2022.

‘’The ASEANO project will add to ASEAN’s continuing efforts in addressing marine plastic debris and in promoting a transition to circular economy by learning from Norway’s extensive experience and expertise,’’ said the Secretary-General of ASEAN, His Excellency Dato Lim Jock Hoi.

H.E. Phasporn Sangasubana, Permanent Representative of Thailand to ASEAN, highlighted: “The project is an example of multi-stakeholder effort to follow up on the pledge that our leaders have made to increase public awareness and participation with the aim to change behaviour towards preventing and reducing marine debris. It also reflects the shared commitment to address issues of common concern that ASEAN has with its external partners, especially Norway who has played a leading role in combating marine litter and microplastic both at domestic and international levels.“

The overall project is funded with USD 2.8 million contribution from the Government of Norway under the Norwegian-ASEAN Regional Integration Programme (NARIP) and will be implemented over the course of three years (2019–2020). ASEANO will be implemented in cooperation with the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Centre for Southeast Asian Studies Indonesia (CSEAS) and Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA).

“Norway is proud to launch this project with ASEAN in combatting marine litter and microplastics. Healthy oceans are crucial for our planet. We need to act forcefully to stop plastic waste ending up in our rivers and oceans. ASEAN adopted in Bangkok this year a Framework of Action on Marine Debris. Norway is committed to support ASEAN on this important issue,” Morten Høglund, Ambassador of Norway to ASEAN, added.

The launch of ASEANO will also mark the kick-off of a week-long workshop in Indonesia where researchers from the implementing partners, i.e. NIVA, CSEAS and PEMSEA, will visit Citarum River in West Java, as one of potential pilot sites of the project.  

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