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Ambassador Grete Lochen with the Da Nang DONRE Director, Mr To Van Hung (on her right), and ASEANO local stakeholders

Kick-off ASEANO in Vietnam

Ambassador Grete Løchen's address at the Local Stakeholder Workshop: Reducing Plastic Pollution in Đà Nẵng City to kick-off ASEAN-Norwegian Cooperation Project on Local Capacity Building for Reducing Plastic Pollution in the ASEAN Region (ASEANO) in Vietnam.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for inviting me to this workshop in Da Nang and the kickoff of the Norwegian funded ASEANO project in Vietnam which is a part of Norway’s cooperation with ASEAN as a sector dialogue partner. This is a great opportunity to focus on plastic pollution and marine littering – a national, regional and global challenge! In short, we need to join forces to ensure sustainable ocean economy. If we do not act now there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050.

Ocean sustainability is among the top priorities of Norway. International action is key to addressing the most significant sources of marine plastics.  Marine litter is one of the fastest growing environmental concerns. An estimated 15 tons of litter enter our oceans every minute.  It is estimated that more than 80 per cent of ocean plastics comes from land-based sources with South East Asian countries, like Vietnam among the top contributors.

Norway and Vietnam, as ocean nations, understand better than anyone else the importance of oceans to our economies.  This year we’re celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations (1971-2021). Let’s make our joint efforts for a sustainable ocean economy as part of our celebrations!

Oceans are set as a high priority in the international cooperation agenda of the Norwegian Government. We are actively raising the issue in the UN and other global and regional conventions and platforms. It’s a key pillar in our cooperation with ASEAN. Further, Norway has launched a 1.6 billion NOK, approx. USD180 million, development aid program to combat marine litter globally, including our support to ASEAN member states such as the ASEANO project.

Vietnam is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and has successfully been able to control the COVID19 pandemic through early and decisive measures. But the rate of waste generation growth is expected to be even faster than GDP with the changing lifestyles and rapid urbanisation. Vietnam has already the world's 4th largest release of plastic waste to the ocean.

70% of Vietnams population lives close to the 3400 km long coastline and low-lying deltas. Mismanaged plastic waste has a high potential to end up in rivers and the sea as marine litter, and ultimately as microplastics.

Today, more than 80% of Vietnam's household waste is landfilled, dumped or burnt in open fires. As you all understand sustainable and inclusive waste management is key to combat marine littering.

There is strong political commitment by the Vietnamese Government to tackle the issue of waste management and marine plastics. I know the local authorities in Da Nang and the city’s People’s Committee are committed to sustainable and environmentally friendly development and wants to become a green city by 2025. That’s why I’m particularly pleased to see the launch of the ASEANO project in Vietnam happening in Da Nang.

The main goal of the ASEANO project is to build capacity to tackle plastic pollution from key sources in the ASEAN region through improved knowledge on sources, releases, transport and fate of plastic pollution. ASEANO will focus on local municipality/city level sustainability and a set of sound and feasible measures to reduce plastic pollution from key sectors.

I have learnt that ASEANO is progressing well with many activities currently completed or under implementation both at the regional level and in the two first pilot study sites in Indonesia and the Philippines. However, the measures and restrictions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic has led to some alterations and delays. Now, we are hopeful that ASEANO will get a good start in Vietnam in 2021.

We hope to establish close working relationships between ASEANO project partners and Vietnamese institutions in order to build capacity and develop knowledge -based measures to combat plastic pollution. The  stakeholder workshop today is an important steppingstone toward building collaboration, establishing networks and identifying key priorities for ASEANO in Vietnam as well as identifying, supporting and complementing the ongoing efforts in Da Nang.

I wish you all a very successful workshop and let’s work together to have more fish than plastic in the ocean by 2050.

 Thank you!