Clean Ocean
December 7, 2021
Waste Management and Pollution Control

The work to advance the Pacific region’s push for a cleaner future does not stop.

A week after a very successful Third Clean Pacific Roundtable (3-CPRT), SPREP’s Acting Director of Waste Management, Pollution Control/Pollution Adviser, Mr Anthony Talouli, and his team, already have their eyes fixed on what needs to be done in the next two years, as they build towards the 2024 CPRT in Papua New Guinea. 

Reflecting on the technical, roundtable, side events and the talanoa sessions from 16 – 25 November 2021, Mr Talouli said a key part of moving forward is taking the outcomes and putting them into action. He referred to the adoption of the Cleaner Pacific 2025 Implementation Plan 2021-2025 and the Clean Pacific Roundtable 2021 Outcome Statement as key documents to guide their work to help SPREP’s member countries.

“We appreciate the work of everyone who contributed to the success of the Third Clean Pacific Roundtable and we couldn’t have done it without them,” Mr Talouli said.

“One of the best things about these meetings is that as a region, it provides a very honest picture of where we are in dealing with waste management and pollution, what we need to do and how we go about in addressing the challenges before us.”

For seven days, an average of 100 global participants from the government sector, waste and environmental practitioners, development partners, private sector, community, NGOs, academic and research institutions, came together virtually to share their experiences, focused on the theme of “Clean Environment, Resilient Ocean and Healthy Communities.”

Mr Talouli said all the participants agreed about the urgent need to take action against waste and pollution.

“The Outcome Statement from the meeting reflects this. For example, the meeting agreed that waste and pollution issues continue to be a grave concern to the Pacific region with increasing impact to Pacific people including cultural, social, economic, human health, biodiversity, and the environment and food security,” he said.

The 3-CPRT also agreed that a safer circular economy is essential as an approach to address waste and pollution, highlighting the need for products that are safe, toxic and hazard free substances at all stages of the value chain. The role of key partnerships between the government and private sector is another critical piece of puzzle.

“An enabling robust legislative framework environment based on precautionary, and polluter pays principles that is aligned where possible with other Pacific island countries and territories including the asbestos code of practice, container deposit schemes and reverse logistics, and used oil management incentives, is a useful tool to encourage investment and partnerships whilst ensuring the protection of human health and the environment.”

But even more critical is the need for everyone in the community to be responsible and take ownership of the issues.

“The role of champions at the community and national level was identified,” Mr Talouli said. “They are to advocate for and enhance awareness on waste prevention and management in the Pacific. This takes into consideration the fact that knowledge, values and practices are constantly evolving, and that knowledge sharing and financial and practical support from partner agencies is crucial to successful pollution prevention.”

The Clean Pacific Roundtable is the regional mechanism that empowers regional and national cooperation for the implementation of the Pacific Regional Waste and Pollution Management Strategy 2016-2025 (Cleaner Pacific 2025).  The first two CPRTs in 2016 and 2018 were held in Suva Fiji. The third meeting was supposed to have been held in New Caledonia last year but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was postponed to 2021 and converted to a virtual event. This year’s meeting focused on:

  • Creating a safe Pacific Circular Economy
  • Waste industry-based enterprise with enhanced public-private partnerships
  • Bridging people and waste: Enhancing consciousness in managing waste

As people prepare to celebrate the Festive Season and Christmas, Mr Talouli reminded that waste is a problem that can be solved when everyone works together. He reiterated the sentiments echoed by SPREP’s Director-General, Mr Kosi Latu, during the closing of the 3-CPRT.

“Choose wisely – before you produce, sell or make something, ask yourself if you can reuse or recycle it? Or will it enter the waste landfill?” Mr Latu said.  

“Say No to single-use plastic, use your cloth bags and reusable bottles, and choose reusable food containers. Buy less, waste less – purchase sustainable products where you can and reuse them as often as possible. We depend on the oceans; we depend on the natural resources for survival. The impact of waste on our environment is a threat we can no longer ignore and we must work together to solve it.” 

To read the full Outcome Statement from the 3-CPRT, visit: https://library.sprep.org/content/outcome-statement-clean-pacific-roundtable-2021

Photo: S.Chape