tuvalu waste management
March 25, 2020
Environmental Monitoring and Governance

“A cleaner and healthier Tuvalu for today and future generations.”

This is the vision behind the Tuvalu Integrated Waste Policy and Action Plan 2017-2026, the main national policy framework to guide the management of waste in the country. 

The Government of Tuvalu has published the second annual review of the implementation status of the action plan, which reports that despite implementation challenges, there is evidence of “significant progress” in several areas, including waste management.

The Policy and Action Plan acknowledges that its development is a “timely response to the significant changes happening in the waste sector in the Pacific Region and globally.” 

These changes include an increase in waste generated on the islands that has come about due to a proliferation of consumption of “more wasteful imported products,” according to the Plan. Excess waste presents a significant challenge considering the “extremely limited land mass” of atoll countries such as Tuvalu.  

The Policy and Action Plan, endorsed by the Government of Tuvalu in 2016, consists of six goals: strengthened institutional systems to address gaps in waste management; the stakeholders fully understand the merits of proper waste management and co-share the responsibility of managing waste; establish strong public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the delivery of waste services; delivered waste services follow best practice and are cost-effective; enhanced capacity of waste practitioners; and waste activity outcomes are reported and disseminated to relevant stakeholders. 

The last goal of the Policy and Action Plan is achieved, in part, through the conduct of annual reviews of the implementation status of the Integrated Waste Policy and Action Plan. Since 2016, two annual reviews have been conducted. The latest one was released in May 2019, and covers the period from January 2018 to March 2019. 

The 2019 Annual Review reports that despite challenges to implementation of the Waste Policy and Action Plan, there is evidence of “significant progress” especially on goals two, three, and five due to the Department of Waste Management elevating these to the national level with the support of key stakeholders. 

The report also outlined progress on achieving Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), such as reviewing existing waste-related legislation and merging into one Act; developing specific regulations to support strict enforcement of the new waste legislation; allocating a reasonable budget for waste services; implementing public awareness programmes involving communities and schools on all waste service areas in Tuvaluan language; reducing occupational and public health and safety incidents by 50%; 100% coverage of collection in the main island and at least 80% coverage of collection in the outer islands; and exploration and participation in information exchange programmes with other countries within and outside the region.  

Photo: SPREP/H.Boyes

Tuvalu is aiming to transform towards a circular economy as they see it as the only way to address the increasing amount of waste that end up in landfill annually and to achieve SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) and Article 10 (Disposal of Waste) of the Noumea Convention for the Protection of the Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific Region and Related Protocols. 

To do so they are strengthening engagement with the private sector in order to explore opportunities to reduce the amount of disposable waste and to ensure that all recyclable waste is shipped overseas for proper treatment and processing. 

Tuvalu is also actively engaged in the European Union funded Pacific Waste Management Programme (PacWastePlus) which is implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP), to further strengthen the countries waste management. 

This project especially focusses on e-waste streams as a national waste priority and provides technical assistance in Tuvalu’s transition towards a circular economy. 

The PacWastePlus programme, which is working with 14 Pacific countries, including Timor-Leste has a strong focus on improving data collection, information sharing, and education and awareness. The project also works with countries on developing and implementing policies and regulatory frameworks, implementing best practices to enhance private sector engagement and infrastructure development, and human capacity.  

Yet the 2019 Annual Review recognises that the enforcement of government waste management-related legislation, regulations and policies is “generally weak”, which is related to a lack public awareness and education programmes carried out thus far. 

The report outlines emergent waste issues of importance for Tuvalu such as marine litter, healthcare waste, asbestos, and sewage and sludge. 

To mitigate these emergent issues, the Annual Review recommends the incorporation in the refined action plan 2017-2021 of measures, including the enforcement of law on illegal dumping along the coastline; regular monitoring of ships’ compliance with waste management standards; enforcement of law on littering; putting in place a proper healthcare waste management system; public awareness and education on asbestos features and their locations in Tuvalu; installation of a proper treatment system for sewage and sludge; and women groups taking the lead on addressing illegal dumping and littering problems.

Finally, the Annual Review cautions that, due to the nature of the policy goals, it will take time to realise some of the impacts, particularly those related to the need to change people’s attitudes to waste. [Publication: The 2nd Annual Review of the Implementation Status of Tuvalu’s Integrated Waste Policy and Action Plan 2017-2026] [Tuvalu Environment Data Portal] [Pacific Environment Portal] [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources]

This story was written by Dina Hestad, PhD, of the International Institute for Sustainable Development. It was made possible with funding support from the Government of Sweden through the UN Environment Programme and developed with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) using the Pacific Environment Portal, which enables users to find, access and use regional and national data. The portal has been developed by the regional UNEP-GEF Inform project executed by SPREP, which has established national environment data portals in 14 Pacific island countries to help address the challenges of storing and accessing data. The online database of information and datasets aims to help improve decision making and reporting on the environment.  

You can read the original story at this link.