26 May 2022, Apia: The urgency of implementing commitments into action was the key message at the 3rd PacWastePlus programme steering committee meeting, which was held virtually on May 12, due to the ongoing COVID pandemic.
The European Union (EU) funded and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) implemented PacWastePlus programme is working with 14 countries in the Pacific region, plus Timor-Leste, to address the cost-effective and sustainable management of waste and pollution, as well as reducing the negative impacts of improper waste management on human health and wellbeing.
The programme is a continuation and up-scaling of a previous EU funded Hazardous Waste Management project (PacWaste) that assisted countries to manage asbestos, e-waste, and healthcare waste. This programme continues to work in these areas and expand to address additional five new waste streams, namely disaster waste, bulky waste, recyclables, organic waste, and wastewater.
The Steering Committee is guiding the development and implementation of the PacWastePlus Programme, ensuring a fair and reasonable decision-making process for project priorities and funding allocations. The committee meets on an annual basis to discuss project activity and confirm forward activities for 12 months.
The 2022 steering committee meeting was officially opened by Hon. Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE-Samoa) who stated that the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated existing vulnerabilities particularly in the economic and social sectors, which meant that urgent and bold actions for improved and effective waste management were needed now more than ever.
“Together with climate change and biodiversity loss, waste management and pollution control form the triple planetary crises we are currently facing,” said Hon. Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment-Samoa while officially opening the meeting.
“The detrimental effects of waste and pollution if not sustainably managed and controlled will continue to have a significant impact on sustainable development, environmental sustainability and the health of our Pacific peoples and communities.”
Speaking at the opening of the Steering Committee meeting, the Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific, Mr. Michal Krejza stated that the PacWastePlus programme reflected the importance of the EU’s partnership with the Pacific in preserving the environment and supporting countries in sustainable management of waste.
“These priorities are also included in the European Union Programming for the Pacific for the years 2021-2027 and are in line with the EU-Pacific Green-Blue Alliance, which we launched at the COP26 meeting in Glasgow last year”, said Mr. Krejza.
“The past two years have certainly been very challenging, but we have managed to move forward and make important steps in the right direction despite the travel restrictions in the region.”
He emphasised the need to step up implementation efforts and show the real results of the programme without further delays and encouraged continued cooperation and delivery of project commitments.
Mr. Sefanaia Nawadra, the Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) addressed the meeting and reaffirmed SPREP’s commit to continue working with members and partners, towards sustainable and cost-effective solutions to Pacific waste management challenges.
He highlighted that the WMPC programme together with partners now have a portfolio of projects that were helping “make things happen” for members contributing for the improvement of sustainable waste management and pollution control in the region.
“These projects include the PacWastePlus programme, Committing to Sustainable Waste Actions in the Pacific (SWAP) project, JPRISM II, the Pacific Ocean Litter Project (POLP), GEF ISLANDS project, PACPLAN project, and the WWII Wreck Chuuk, FSM project and it is essential that the synergy these projects share be of benefit to our members as we all work in partnership to implement project actions”, said the SPREP Director General.
“We are also strengthening the Secretariat and our implementation of the Noumea Convention which commits us to addressing the threats to our marine environment including waste and pollution”.
He expressed gratitude to the EU for their continued support to build collective capacity in the Pacific to address waste and pollution challenges and reminded participants of the meeting that the PacWastePlus programme provided an opportunity for countries to leverage work from regional projects that helped enhance national actions and innovate effective waste management interventions.
The SPREP Director General also thanked participating programme countries for the support and cooperation received as they work together through the PacWastePlus programme.
Mr Nawadra concluded by saying that the continued cooperation between country focal points and the PacWastePlus programme management unit to improve waste management systems and services in the region is important, with the need to move on this together to deliver on agreed project commitments and to “make it happen”.
“We now have a common plan and understanding of the challenges we face. We must overcome these challenges together to enhance sustainable and cost-effective waste management in our region, now more than ever before as the programme moves into implementing country and regional commitments into action”, said Mr Sefanaia Nawadra.
“In other words, we need to “Make it Happen.”
The PacWastePlus Programme Manager, Mr Bradley Nolan presented a high-level summary of activities during 2021 and identified several significant achievements identified, including support for five additional countries to respond to KRA 2 (legislative improvement) through Advance Recovery Fee and Deposit (ARFD) feasibility studies for these countries, the provision of support to countries regarding waste policy and National Waste Strategies, completion of the regional waste audits in partnership with United Nations Environment Programme, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, the Pacific Ocean Litter Programme and various partnerships with regional donors and donor funded projects to undertake work that would assist PacWastePlus actions.
In addition, the PacWastePlus team had continued the active and ongoing implementation of a Communications & Visibility Plan led by the quarterly “Connections” newsletter and with over 100 valuable resource publications released in the past 12 months.
The substantive meeting was Chaired by Ms Christina Fillmed, Director Yap Environment Protection Agency, Federated States of Micronesia, and was well attended by all country members and programme partners.
Ms Fillmed guided a series of five interactive country led Talanoa sessions addressing the waste priority areas implemented by participating countries. Talanoa topics were sustainable financing (e-waste and recyclables), asbestos management, organics waste, healthcare waste and bulky/disaster waste management.
The Talanoa sessions enabled a holistic discussion of both Country and regional projects addressing the topic in question. Each Talanoa explored the design, commitments, and implementation plan for 2022.
At the conclusion of the meeting country focal points were encouraged to commence implementation of their agreed project actions and meeting participants were informed that an offer was made from the Cook Islands to host the PacWastePlus programme Steering Committee meeting in 2023 with a tentative date of the week of 24 April 2023 being proposed.
The 3rd PacWastePlus Programme Steering Committee Meeting report can be downloaded from: https://pacwasteplus.org/resources/pacwasteplus-steering-committee-meeting-report-2022/
The Pacific- European Union (EU) Waste Management Programme (PacWastePlus) is a 72-month programme funded by the EU and implemented by Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and will address both the cost-effective and sustainable management of waste and pollution as well as broader impacts including human health and wellbeing, climate change, disaster management, biodiversity conservation and resource recovery.
Priority waste streams include hazardous wastes (specifically asbestos, E-waste and healthcare waste), solid wastes (specifically recyclables, organic waste, disaster waste and bulky waste) and related aspects of wastewater.
Countries participating in the PacWastePlus programme are: Cook Islands, Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.
Learn more about the PacWastePlus programme by visiting: