Talking Chemical and Waste Management Priorities in the Pacific

Participants from across the Pacific region gathered at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme headquarters in Apia this week to discuss and decide on regional priorities to propose for Global Environment Facility funding for chemical and waste management in the Pacific.

The two-day workshop, which ran from 21 to 22 March 2018, was the first in a series of regional consultations to identify and resource actions to address the issues of chemical and waste in the region for consideration under the GFE-7 funding cycle.

The programme is a joint initiative between the UN Environment and SPREP, and is planned to be implemented across the Pacific region to tackle the issues of chemical and waste, which affect Pacific people, environments and economies.

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Participants of the GEF 7 Planning and Priorirtisation workshop held at the SPREP Campus, Vailima. Photo: SPREP

SPREP's Director General, Mr Kosi Latu, said "Waste management has been a key focus of leaders meetings, particularly the 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting held in Apia last year. This shows the commitment by Pacific Island leaders to addressing the issues of waste within the region."

Dr Kevin Helps, Senior Programme Officer/GEF Portfolio Manager Chemicals and Waste of UN Environment, stated that UN Environment is committed to putting in time and energy into the consultations to identify what needs to be done within the region.

"There is already a critical mass of activities ongoing in the region and we need to build on those existing projects and identify ways to glue them all together while filling any key gaps."

"UN Environment is eager to work with you to shape priorities into a proposal which will allow countries in the Pacific region to access funding which will enable us to carry out more activities to tackle the issue of chemicals and waste in the region."

The priority types of waste include waste from electronic devices (e-waste), used oil, residual solid waste (landfill management), recyclable materials, persistent organic pollutants, mercury and marine plastics. To address these and other wastes, the group is focusing their efforts on building up infrastructure, policies and trained, informed Pacific experts to manage the materials.

Their work is being guided by a regional strategy. The Pacific Regional Waste and Pollution Management Strategy 2016-2025 (Cleaner Pacific 2025) outlines the importance of proper chemical and waste management in the Pacific and is one of the many frameworks which have been put in place to deal with hazardous waste and chemicals.

The participants of the workshop include representatives from Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu.
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