by Allan Nawal
BANGKOK – Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Saturday formally declared war against marine debris.
President Rodrigo Duterte is attending the 24th ASEAN Summit here, which will wrap up later today, Sunday.
In a joint statement, now known as the Bangkok Declaration on Combatting Marine Debris in ASEAN Region, Duterte and his counterparts in the regional cooperation bloc vowed to “strengthen actions at the national level, as well as through collaborative actions among the ASEAN Member States and partners to prevent and significantly reduce marine debris, particularly from land-based activities, including environmentally sound management.”
The leaders said they were concerned “on the high and rapidly increasing levels of marine debris in particular marine plastic litter and the expected increase in negative effects on marine biodiversity, ecosystems, animal well-being, fisheries, maritime transport, recreation and tourism, local societies and economies, and the urgent need for strengthened knowledge of the levels and effects of microplastics and nano plastics on marine ecosystem, food safety and human health.”
They vowed to encourage “an integrated land-to-sea approach to prevent and reduce marine debris”, which include stronger national laws and regulations.
The ASEAN leaders said inter-sectoral coordination between ASEAN sectoral bodies should also be strengthened “to effectively address the multi-dimensional and far-reaching negative effects as well as sources of marine debris pollution.”
They also spoke of the need for multi-stakeholder coordination and cooperation, and implementation of joint actions and partnerships.
However, because governments can only do so much, the ASEAN leaders said they would “promote private sector engagement and investment in preventing and reducing marine debris, including partnerships between public and private sector through various mechanisms and incentives.”
To further combat marine debris, the ASEAN leaders said innovative solutions had to be promoted, and these include the reduction, reuse, and recycling of plastics. (PNA)