By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The Philippines-based ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has lauded the region’s collaborative actions to prevent and significantly reduce marine debris, particularly from land-based activities.
“The recent adoption by the ASEAN heads of governments of the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris demonstrates the commitment of the 10 ASEAN member-states in protecting and conserving the region’s rich marine resources,” said Dr. Theresa Mundita Lim, Executive Director of ACB.
During the 34th ASEAN Summit held in Bangkok, the heads of states of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam, through the Bangkok Declaration, recommended an integrated land-to-sea approach to prevent and reduce marine debris.
The Declaration also called for the strengthening of national laws and regulations, as well as enhancing regional and international cooperation, including on relevant policy dialogue and information sharing.
Lim said that marine pollution is a trans-boundary issue and its impact on marine biodiversity is already evident with the plastics being found ingested by migratory marine species that travel across seas in the ASEAN, and adjacent areas.
“The Declaration substantially contributes towards the achievement of Aichi Biodiversity Target 8, on bringing pollution to levels that are not detrimental to ecosystem function and biodiversity; and Strategic Goal C, on improving the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species, and genetic diversity,” she pointed out.
“It requires regional efforts to combat marine debris, and considering that our rich marine biodiversity in the region contributes to food security, climate change mitigation, and increased disaster resiliency for the people of the ASEAN, the Declaration provides more impetus and guidance for the ACB and development partners to strengthen our efforts to support the ASEAN Member States and the region to help ensure that this sincere resolve is reflected in cross-sectoral policies, and operationalized and realized on the ground,” she added.
Lim also noted that the Declaration will be an excellent benchmark in crafting the ASEAN’s contributions to the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
She said the Bangkok Declaration promotes mainstreaming of biodiversity and ecosystem conservation as it calls for coordination among ASEAN sectoral bodies to effectively address the multi-dimensional and far-reaching negative effects, as well as sources of marine debris pollution.
The Declaration enhances the multi-stakeholder coordination and cooperation, including implementing joint actions and partnerships for addressing such challenge; and encourages private sector engagement and investment in preventing and reducing marine debris, including partnerships between public and private sector through various mechanisms and incentives.
It also calls for the promotion of innovative solutions to enhance plastics value chains and improve resource efficiency by prioritizing approaches, such as 3R (reduce, reuse, recycle).
Lim cited the Bangkok Declaration for its call on strengthening research capacity and application of scientific knowledge to combat marine debris; accelerating advocacy and actions to increase public awareness and participation; and enhancing education for behavioral change toward preventing and reducing marine debris.