Fiji Sun - - Suncity - Source: WWF Fiji

World Wide Fund for Na­ture (WWF) con­grat­u­lates the lead­ers of Pa­cific states and ter­ri­to­ries on their com­mit­ment to curb marine plas­tic pol­lu­tion, as de­clared in the lead­ers’ com­mu­nique of the 50th Pa­cific Is­lands Fo­rum Lead­ers Meet­ing, which was re­leased af­ter the lead­ers’ meet­ing in Tu­valu.

The lat­est in a grow­ing wave of po­lit­i­cal com­mit­ments that aim to stem the tide of global marine plas­tic pol­lu­tion, the Pa­cific lead­ers’ dec­la­ra­tion is backed by a re­gional plan - the Pa­cific Marine Lit­ter Ac­tion Plan (2018 – 2025).

Notably, the first ac­tion listed is to sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of a global treaty to address marine lit­ter and mi­croplas­tics. “Through no fault of their own,

the Pa­cific states and ter­ri­to­ries are cur­rently on the re­ceiv­ing end of much of the world’s marine plas­tic pol­lu­tion,” said Al­fred Ral­ifo, Great Sea Reef pro­gramme man­ager at WWF Pa­cific.

“Even the most re­mote, un­in­hab­ited and pre­vi­ously pris­tine is­lands now have their beaches ut­terly cov­ered in plas­tic waste.

“While the re­gion may be small, the mes­sage its lead­ers have sent here is loud and clear: plas­tic pol­lu­tion is a global prob­lem, and we need a global so­lu­tion now.” The Pa­cific Marine Lit­ter Ac­tion Plan lays out re­gional waste man­age­ment strate­gies on land and at sea, in­clud­ing plans to de­velop com­pli­ance frame­works for cruise ships, as well as ship­ping and fish­ing ves­sels.

How­ever, at least 80 per cent of marine plas­tic pol­lu­tion comes from land-based sources, amount­ing to more than 2480 bil­lion pieces of plas­tic es­ti­mated to be float­ing in the Pa­cific Ocean – an over­whelm­ing por­tion of which is con­trib­uted by coun­tries that are not in the Pa­cific.

“It is clear that ac­tions need to be taken at the global level to en­sure solutions are agreed and im­ple­mented at a scale that is com­men­su­rate to the size of the prob­lem,” said Eirik Lin­de­b­jerg, WWF’s global plas­tics pol­icy man­ager.

Closely linked to the de­gen­er­a­tion of coral reefs and loss of marine bio­di­ver­sity, marine plas­tic af­fects fish­eries and tourism, threat­en­ing coastal liveli­hoods, food se­cu­rity and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, com­pound­ing the dis­as­ter risks that the Pa­cific re­gion is al­ready fac­ing due to cli­mate change.

In March, the UN En­vi­ron­ment As­sem­bly saw over 50 coun­tries sup­port­ing the call for a global treaty, fol­lowed by the en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ters of the Nordic coun­tries, and heads of gov­ern­ments of 15 Caribbean na­tions and ter­ri­to­ries this July.

At both the G20 and ASEAN Sum­mit this year, gov­ern­ments made joint dec­la­ra­tions to elim­i­nate plas­tic leak­age into the oceans, and al­though these dec­la­ra­tions lack di­rec­tion in terms of a bind­ing reg­u­la­tory frame­work, they sig­nalled a grow­ing po­lit­i­cal mo­men­tum and joint am­bi­tion to­wards zero plas­tic leak­age into the oceans.

“Now is the time for other world lead­ers and pol­icy makers, es­pe­cially in Asia Pa­cific, to join the grow­ing cho­rus of na­tions call­ing for a global treaty,” said Mr Lind­berg.

“This is the best and only chance we have of ar­rest­ing the plas­tic cri­sis be­fore it spi­rals further out of con­trol, whether it be in our oceans and wa­ter­ways, our land­scapes, or even in our bod­ies.”

WWF is call­ing for an am­bi­tious, time-bound and legally bind­ing global treaty to re­duce the pro­duc­tion of new plas­tic and halt the dis­charge of plas­tics into the ocean. Over a mil­lion peo­ple have signed up to a WWF pe­ti­tion, call­ing on the world’s gov­ern­ment lead­ers to agree to a legally bind­ing global treaty on marine plas­tic pol­lu­tion.

Pa­cific Is­land Lead­ers pose for an of­fi­cial pho­to­graph dur­ing the 50th Pa­cific Is­land Lead­ers Fo­rum in Tu­valu.

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