| Jakarta

Norway and Indonesia are fighting marine debris together

From the left, Country Director Rodrigo Chavez, Ambassador Rasmus Kristensen, Governor Anies Baswedan, Ambassador Vegard Kaale and Deputy Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs Ambassador Havas Oegroseno.  - Photo:World Bank ENR Team

On Tuesday 30 January, the Governor of Jakarta, Mr Anies Baswedan, hosted an event at the Manggarai Watergate to mark the establishment of the Indonesia Ocean Trust Fund. Ambassador Havas Oegroseno from the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Country Director Rodrigo Chavez from the World Bank, the Ambassadors from Norway and Denmark to Indonesia and the mayors of Central- and South Jakarta joined the launch.

In order to support Indonesia’s national Oceans Agenda, and in particular President Joko Widodo’s aim to reduce marine plastic debris by 70% by 2025, Norway has contributed USD 1.4 million to the Indonesia Ocean Trust Fund, managed by the World Bank. At the Manggarai Watergate, participants could see how Indonesia already is making an effort to clean up plastic and other items floating in their rivers. Through the Indonesia Ocean Trust Fund, this effort may be increased allowing Indonesia to fulfill its ambitions in this area.

In his speech, the Governor of Jakarta, Mr Anies Baswedan, underlined the importance of a bottom-up approach. He highlighted the need to do an effort both down- and upstream. People’s mindset has to change and waste has to be considered a resource among all stakeholders in the society.

Deputy Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs, Ambassador Havas Oegroseno, illustrated the need for additional effort by making a comparison between Indonesia and other nations. According to Ambassador Havas, Indonesia is only spending on average USD 6 per capita on waste handling. This is substantially lower than the international benchmark of USD 15 per capita. The Country Director of the World Bank, Mr Rodrigo Chavez, underscored the magnitude of this challenge and was very pleased to see the establishment of the Indonesia Ocean Trust Fund.

The Ambassadors from Norway and Denmark were also allowed to give their remarks at the event. “As a nation dependent on clean and healthy oceans for our economic prosperity, stopping plastic waste entering the ocean is an issue of the highest priority for Norway,” says Norway’s Ambassador Mr. Vegard Kaale, “and Indonesia is an important part of the solution to this global problem.” The Danish Ambassador, Mr Rasmus Kristensen, highlighted the strong cooperation between Denmark and Indonesia on circular economy and reminded listeners that the current situation is not unique. The Nordic countries was also facing similar problems decades ago, but policies and cooperation on governmental and municipal levels have allowed these nations to develop a circular economy and transform previously hazardous environments to recreational areas.

After the ceremony, the Governor, Deputy Coordinating Minister, Country Director and Ambassadors were given a demonstration of how DKI Jakarta were collecting the trash at Manggarai Watergate. In Manggarai alone, the government is collecting 17 tons of waste per day. This illustrates the importance of ensuring better waste management on land and thereby promoting healthy and clean oceans.

A global challenge

Marine debris has become a global challenge. Every minute 15 tons of plastics goes into our oceans. Eighty percent of the plastic in the sea comes from land. Poorly managed solid waste seeps into the ocean via rivers and canals, and spreads to every corner of the globe by ocean currents. Unless we change our behavior, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050 , according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Plastic and micro-plastic kill marine life and gets into the human food chain with negative effects on our health.

Clean and healthy oceans are vital for a coastal nation like Norway, with an economy that depends in large part on resources from the sea, whether it is seafood, oil and gas, sea transport, or tourism, and all the jobs this provides. This is a situation we share with Indonesia. Putting an end to plastics in the ocean is therefore a very high priority in Norway’s foreign and development policy.

There is already a great deal of momentum globally to solve the problem. A UN resolution setting the goal of eliminating plastic waste in the ocean was co-sponsored by Norway and Indonesia at the UN Environment Assembly in December 2017, and received support from 193 countries. Better waste management on land is the key solution, and many technologies are already available to reduce leakage of waste from land to sea, as well as turning waste into a resource, i.e. energy, recycled products and so on. Awareness is increasing among producers as well as consumers about the need to move away from the types of plastic we use only once and then throw away, such as plastic wrappers, plastic bags and bottles. The goal should be a circular economy – where waste can become the raw material for new products. A circular economy based on sustainable waste management can turn our waste into a valuable resource.