20 August 2018, Suva, Fiji - The Clean Pacific Roundtable opened today to a call from the Prime Minister of Fiji, Hon. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, urging delegates to aim for maximum ambition in the quest for a Cleaner Pacific.
Bringing together over 200 people to discuss challenges, solutions and actions to address waste challenges across the region, the Clean Pacific Roundtable is also the platform for sharing experiences. Many of these which demonstrate leadership from the Pacific region.
Leading the coordination of the roundtable is the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), with the support of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the European Union (EU), and other partners. The event is being held at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
“When it comes to our oceans, it’s clear that there is still a great deal that’s unknown. Meanwhile, what we do know, and what becomes clearer every year, is that it plays a crucial role in the overall health of our environment and our climate. And we also know that, unfortunately, the ocean bears much of the worst brunt of the damages sowed by man-made emissions and pollution,” stated Hon. Prime Minister Bainimarama.
“That’s why my Government is leading by example in assisting the region to address the troubling increase of marine debris, plastics, and micro-plastics that are plaguing the Pacific. Threatening the lives of our precious ocean life, this waste is extremely troubling for nations like Fiji who rely so heavily on keeping our seas both pristine and sustainable. Because we are so vulnerable to the effects of marine debris, it is absolutely essential for all Pacific leaders to look at this issue with urgency, and to lead the world with action.”
Held every two years, this is the very second Clean Pacific Roundtable, the first was held in 2016 in Fiji. The Clean Pacific Roundtable enables the monitoring and progress reporting of the Pacific Regional Waste and Pollution Management Strategy, known more commonly as the Cleaner Pacific 2025. In addition, the Roundtable presents an opportunity for regional partners to highlight work undertaken, that is not captured in the Cleaner Pacific 2025.
This year the Clean Pacific Roundtable spans three days, followed by associated Pacific regional Waste events. The CPRT will focus on seven key topics, these being: Boosting eco-tourism through proper waste management; Coordinated actions to combat marine debris; Enhancing proper management of hazardous wastes; Ensuring more informed decisions through waste data management; Further enhancement of regional capacity in waste management; Planning and responding to disaster wastes; and regional coordination in recycling.
“The issue of plastic pollution requires a combination of national, regional and global targeted action. Studies, for instance, show that 40 % of all the marine plastics that end up in the Pacific comes from Asia. Furthermore, a study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation predicted that on current trends, there will be more micro-plastics in the ocean by 2050 than fish,” said Mr Kosi Latu, Director General of SPREP.
“The plastics issue is not just a waste issue anymore. It is now a food security issue, and it is increasingly becoming a climate issue as well. A study on fish ingestion with samples from New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa and Rapa Nui showed that 97 % of all fish species sampled had microplastics. This was 30% higher than the global average. This is very concerning for the Pacific where fish is the main source for protein, and where fish consumption is at least approximately 3 or 4 times higher than the global average.”
The three days of deliberations will result in an outcomes statement that will help guide and enhance actions to bring about a Cleaner Pacific. Pacific Island Forum Leaders have committed to fast-track the development of policies to ban the use of single-use plastic bags, plastic and styrofoam packaging. It was during the Forum Leaders Meeting in 2017 that they called upon Pacific Rim partners to join and commit to action on addressing marine pollution and marine debris, to maintain the environmental integrity of the Pacific Ocean for people, planet and prosperity.
“This roundtable event is the region’s response to collectively considering, discussing and deciding on practical solutions to progress the Leaders’ decision. The success of our efforts is dependent on our ability to collectively commit to the Pathways to a pollution-free Pacific that this meeting will propose,” said Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat as she welcomed delegates to the Clean Pacific Roundtable today.
“Actions at the regional level are reflective of what occurs at the national level and it is encouraging to see these efforts and advocacy galvanised at the global level. We, your Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific, stand ready to support Members’ through the provision of expert scientific advice and technical support, capacity building and coherent and effective advocacy.”
The Clean Pacific Roundtable 2018 held in Suva, Fiji from 20 – 22 August 2018 followed by associated events on 23 and 24 August 2018.
This is the second CPRT, a Pacific regional event which is held every two years. In 2018 it has brought together over 130 participants from across the Pacific island region to help seek solutions to Pacific waste problems in line with the Cleaner Pacific 2025, the Pacific waste and pollution management strategy for the Pacific.
For further information on the Clean Pacific Roundtable 2018 and the topics, please do visit https://www.sprep.org/clean-pacific-roundtable-2018.