‘Asean collaboration needed to address marine plastic pollution’
Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - August 15, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said there is a need for strong collaboration and an immediate comprehensive regional action to address the crucial issue of marine plastic pollution.

During the recently concluded ASEAN Ministerial Roundtable Discussion on Clean Air, Health and Climate held in Makati City, Cimatu, in his welcome message, said five Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states were cited as the biggest sources of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans and had the highest marine plastic litter concentration.

In 2015, Science magazine listed Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines as among the world’s worst plastic polluters.

Cimatu reminded environment ministers to address the issue of marine plastics given the ASEAN region’s “richness in marine biodiversity aside from being a strategic maritime zone.”

“After all, plastics have carbon footprint, too, and bio-accumulation of microplastics may have impacts to human health,” the Department of Environment and Natural Resources chief said.

Environment ministers and senior officials of ASEAN member states have committed to strengthen local initiatives to address air pollution and to adopt early and scaled-up solutions to avoid a temperature increase by 2050. This will help improve air quality and prevent premature deaths and crop damage annually.

The commitments are in response to the roundtable discussion’s primary message to highlight the linkages of issues related to air pollution, health and climate. Specifically, the focus was to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) such as black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone and hydrofluorocarbons which, aside from adversely affecting health, also contribute to global warming.

The need for integrated planning on climate change and air pollution was likewise raised to identify the most relevant actions to mitigate both impacts simultaneously.

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