A Call for Healthy, Blue Oceans in Asia and the Pacific

By Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana
BANGKOK, Thailand, Aug 5 2019 (IPS)

Leaders at the Group of 20 summit last month agreed on the
“Osaka Blue Ocean Vision,” which aims to reduce additional
pollution by marine plastic litter to zero by 2050. The UN Economic
and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) stands ready
to support Japan and other countries in the region to ensure
healthy and sustainable oceans.

Approximately 8 million tons of plastic leaks out of the global
economy and into the oceans each year. Asia and the Pacific is
responsible for about 60 percent of the increase in global plastic

Without action, the world’s oceans will contain nearly 250
million tons of plastic by 2025, further endangering our marine
environment with a wide range of toxins and ultimately putting our
own food sources at risk.

The commitment of G20 leaders, led by Japan, to tackle the
proliferation of plastic litter through the Osaka Blue Ocean Vision
aligns with the first target of United Nations Sustainable
Development Goal 14 (Life Below Water), which is to prevent and
significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular
from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient
pollution, by 2025.

G20 leaders also reiterated that measures to address marine
litter need to be taken nationally and internationally by all
countries in partnership with relevant stakeholders. In the
Asia-Pacific region, several countries have already adopted plans
to combat marine plastic debris by banning single-use plastics and
enacting new recycling laws.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s launch of the “MARINE
Initiative” (focusing on management of wastes, recovery of marine
litter, innovation and empowerment) at the G20 summit to support
developing countries’ efforts, including their capacity building
and infrastructure development, in waste management is a good
demonstration of the kind of regional cooperation on trans-boundary
issues where ESCAP can play a key role.

ESCAP’s next annual meeting, in May 2020, will feature the
theme “Promoting economic, social and environmental cooperation
on oceans for sustainable development.” One possible outcome of
our deliberations is the creation of a voluntary “coalition of
the willing” to reduce plastic marine pollution.

In a region already under stress from climate change, resource
exploitation and population growth, healthy oceans mean jobs, food,
identity and resilience for millions, especially the most
vulnerable and disadvantaged.

The coalition would be a regional multi-stakeholder platform
that would provide technical assistance and capacity building
support. In line with the G20 approach, governments would be joined
in this coalition by the private sector, civil society
organizations, research and academic institutions, and
representatives of the informal sector. These actors can all play a
catalytic role for creative solutions.

Indeed, Japanese innovation can be applied to municipal
recycling and composting. State-of-the-art solid waste management
systems are being developed, underpinned by strong cooperation
between national and local governments.

Even the organizing committee of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and
Paralympic Games has gotten into the act: It has a comprehensive
sustainability plan inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs) and includes such measures as extracting materials from
discarded smartphones and other small electronic devices to make
the Olympic medals.

Japan also is supporting the development of marine litter
monitoring technology in cooperation with other Asian countries.
Its authorities are working with producers to eliminate single-use
plastics and promote biodegradable polymers.

The goal is to reduce the detrimental effects on marine and
costal ecosystems on which many livelihoods depend, crucial in a
region where 200 million people are reliant on fisheries alone.

Japanese innovation and technology can contribute much to the
region’s solutions to eliminate plastics from our oceans. Through
ESCAP, we can scale these efforts across the continent, working
closely with our countries and partners to build a collective
response to stop marine pollution in Asia and the Pacific and
reclaim our “blue oceans.”

The post
A Call for Healthy, Blue Oceans in Asia and the Pacific

appeared first on Inter Press


Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is UN
Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the U.N.
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

The post
A Call for Healthy, Blue Oceans in Asia and the Pacific

appeared first on Inter Press

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
A Call for Healthy, Blue Oceans in Asia and the Pacific