Australia reaffirms support in addressing plastic pollution in the Pacific

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The Pacific has a friend in Australia when it comes to addressing plastic pollution.

That was the message delivered at the opening of the Pacific Regional Preparatory Workshop for the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastics Resolution by Paul Wilson, Chargé d’Affaires for the Australian High Commission in Suva, Fiji.

The Government of Australia has partnered with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) to deliver a three-day workshop which aims to provide Pacific Island Member governments with the assistance to negotiate a global agreement to address plastic pollution covering the whole life cycle of plastics.

“Australia was pleased to join calls for this new global agreement, which will form a part of the global response that is urgently required to stem the flow of plastics into our oceans,” Wilson said.

“Plastic pollution is a major issue for our region – impacting our ecosystems, fisheries, coastal tourism, human health, shipping, and trade. We understand the urgency of the plastics challenge facing the planet and our oceans, and we are committed to being a full partner in the global fight to solve it.”

As part of its broader support for the Pacific region to address the issue of plastic pollution, the Government of Australia is also partnering with SPREP to reduce marine plastic litter through the AUD$16 million (US$11 million) Pacific Ocean Litter Project (POLP), which aims to help Pacific island countries refuse, reduce, and find alternatives to single-use plastics.

The POLP aims to achieve, within the Pacific, the adoption of legislated or voluntary single-use plastic bans, levies and other instruments; increased consumer awareness, and to provide support and motivation to reduce the use of single-use plastic by targeting sectors, companies and businesses adopt single-use plastic reduction measures.

The POLP will also identify alternative, environmentally sustainable products and practices to support a reduction in single-use plastics use; and strengthen SPREP’s leadership and coordination of marine plastic litter initiatives in the Pacific.

Implementation of the project came to a halt in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, but both SPREP and the Government of Australia are excited to see the work finally progress with the recruitment of a full project team nearing completion.

The project will provide support, advice and assistance for the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The Pacific Ocean Litter Project is funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) through the Australian Aid Programme under a grant arrangement with SPREP as the regional implementing partner.

The Pacific Regional Preparatory Workshop for the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee is held from 16 – 18 August 2022 in Suva, Fiji. It funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Australia, and organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme.

For more information on the POLP project, please contact Andrea Volentras, Project Manager, at andreav@sprep.org

SOURCE: SPREP/PACNEWS