ASEAN leaders to vow at summit to tackle marine debris

11, Jun. 2019

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BANGKOK, Kyodo - Southeast Asian leaders will commit to tackle the growing problem of marine debris, in particular plastics, during their summit later this month, according to a draft declaration obtained Monday.

The leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations will make the vow in the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in ASEAN Region, to be inked during their summit to be held on June 23 in Bangkok.

In the draft, the leaders call for strengthening actions at the national level, as well as through international collaboration, to prevent and significantly reduce marine debris.

They pledge to enhance policy dialogue and information sharing, implement partnerships between the public and private sectors, and promote innovative solutions to reducing plastic litter, including through development of a circular economy whereby plastics are kept out of the environment and instead returned to production through reuse and recycling.

The leaders also commit to devote more scientific and research work to combatting marine debris and to increase public awareness and participation through advocacy and education, with the aim of changing people's behavior.

The draft shows ASEAN's concern over the “high and rapidly increasing levels” of marine plastic litter and other debris, and the adverse impacts on marine biodiversity, ecosystems, animal well-being, fisheries, maritime transport, recreation, tourism, local societies and economies.

It cites an “urgent need” for strengthened knowledge of the levels and effects of microplastics and nanoplastics on the marine ecosystem, food safety and human health.(Kyodo)