Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to address this Roundtable on the topic of Controlling Plastic Pollution in Asia and the Pacific.
ESCAP is the intergovernmental platform that works with member States to advance the Sustainable Development Goals and seeks solutions to common development challenges in Asia and the Pacific.
Our most recent SDG Progress Report for Asia and the Pacific shows that the region is regressing on the delivery of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
Our region is currently not on track to reach key targets, including Target 14.1 on marine pollution.
Over the past years, plastic pollution, in particular marine litter, has increasingly featured as one of the key concerns in our region.
In 2020, ESCAP’s flagship theme study “Changing Sails: Accelerating regional actions for sustainable oceans in Asia and the pacific”, also focused on the issue of marine plastic pollution.
The evidence shows that already as much as 12 million tons of plastic have entered the ocean. But this is the tip of the iceberg.
Projections indicate that plastic produced will quadruple by 2050. We do not want the amount of plastic polluted to also quadruple.
So, there is a lot more plastic to manage ahead of us.
I am pleased to recognize that member States adopted a resolution at the 76th Commission session in 2020 that encouraged the implementation of policies built on sound science.
Importantly, member States also called for reducing additional pollution by marine plastic litter to zero by 2050.
In response, ESCAP is working to address this issue through the regional cooperation mechanism and in partnership with the UN system and related stakeholders.
Our work is focusing on stepping up support through technological innovation such as satellites, remote sensors and artificial intelligence.
As we move forward, we will be interested to learn more about nuclear technologies, particularly in the fight against microplastics which have been very challenging to address in Asia and the Pacific.
I am pleased to share two key issues for your further deliberations and considerations.
First, let us focus on using the existing policy frameworks, agreements, and networks in the region.
We can synergise the available resources and solutions.
Allow me to highlight some existing frameworks:
- The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development;
- The G20 Osaka Blue Ocean Vision, led by Japan;
- The ASEAN Framework of Action on Marine Debris, led by the ASEAN Secretariat;
- National level policies on plastic pollution; and
- City level action plans on plastic pollution.
In this regard, at ESCAP, we are also closely working with the UN regional offices and country teams by scaling up coordination and implementation efforts of our member States.
Second, let us collaborate at the regional level with frameworks such as the Closing the Loop Project.
Under this institutional framework and agreement, we are exploring solutions or technology relevant for cities trying to prevent and manage plastic pollution.
At the regional level, we are very much looking forward to forge partnership for mitigating the marine plastic pollution.
For example, ESCAP, in collaboration with other UN agencies, is currently developing a “Regional Decade Program” to support the implementation of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (the “Ocean Decade”) in Asia and the Pacific.
This program will deliver ocean protection work from 2021 to 2030.
Through this regional program, we will engage a variety of key stakeholders including governments, civil society, the youth, the private sector, academia and the scientific community.
This will further support the development of the science we need for the ocean we want in Asia and the Pacific.
Over the past years, ESCAP has been organizing the Asia-Pacific Day for the Ocean.
This multi-stakeholder dialogue platform aims to enhance regional cooperation on the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources by promoting experience-sharing, technology transfer, and capacity-building.
As we move forward, ESCAP stands ready to work with you and invite you to engage in our regional interactive dialogues for the benefit of the Asia-Pacific region.
Together, we can help promote technological solutions for controlling plastic pollution.