A healthy marine environment is essential for achieving sustainable development, and is an integral part of global security and biodiversity. Southeast Asia is home to a large percentage of the world’s marine habitats, but also has one of the world’s highest amount of mismanaged waste ending up in the oceans. The issue of marine littering is thus a major concern for the region, as well as for the international community. At the meeting, speakers from Europe and Asia shared their experiences and concerns regarding waste management systems, innovative business ideas, as well as campaigns and policies discouraging the use of plastics.
In his speech, Mr. Vegard Holmelid focused on how Norway has worked on combatting marine littering and micro plastics. To “act locally, but think globally” was the key message of his speech. Local waste management systems must be developed, and industries must take greater responsibility in creating re-usable products, whose material value in the production chain is extended. But as waste travels across oceans, international cooperation is necessary. Norway has pushed for joint international action to reduce plastic waste through the UN Environment assembly, and continues to push for a new global framework to address marine littering in a comprehensive manner. Norway has also established a Development Program to combat marine littering and micro plastics, and allocated about 13 million US dollars for the fund in 2018.