Cooperative effort to tackle plastic pollution across Asia

Japan and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has announced a new cooperative effort to tackle plastic pollution across Asia and support post-conflict environmental recovery in Iraq and South Sudan.

Japan will contribute US$6.9 million to four UNEP-led projects.

The bulk of the funding will fund a second phase of the CounterMEASURE project, which is determining the origins of plastic pollution in some of Asia’s major rivers and has supported establishment of local partnerships for reducing plastic pollution.

The first phase of the year-long project has used novel technologies and methodologies to track plastic pollution to its sources along the Mekong and Ganges rivers.

This allows for bespoke policy recommendations to governments to help stop plastic pollution where it is leaking into waterways.

The second phase of the CounterMEASURE project will expand the work of the first, furthering policy and behaviour changes in Mekong countries and India and bringing techniques to other locales, such as Sri Lanka.

The second phase will also look at the impact of plastic pollution on wildlife, particularly migratory species.

A second project under the funding package will support research into how to manage and treat plastic waste throughout Asia.

The global pandemic COVID-19 and the generation of additional plastic waste will amplify our urgent needs to find solutions to the crisis of plastic pollution

UNEP’s International Environmental Technology Centre will be leading the work, looking at how to deploy a digital platform to support environmentally sound management of plastic waste.

“The global pandemic COVID-19 and the generation of additional plastic waste will amplify our urgent needs to find solutions to the crisis of plastic pollution. Japan’s support and expertise in waste management is incredibly vital to finding solutions to these problems,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.

“Japan has long been a committed and reliable partner to UNEP, and we are pleased to deepen this collaboration.”

Japan’s grant is intended to bolster the country’s MARINE Initiative toward the realisation of its Osaka Blue Ocean Vision, aimed at reducing additional pollution by marine plastic litter to zero by 2050, which was announced at the G20 meeting in Osaka in 2019.

Part of the Japanese backing will also support conflict debris management in Iraq. As parts of Iraq recover from the destructive conflict with the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), this project will aim to aid returnees in Kirkuk Governorate by clearing their homes and providing livelihoods through debris recycling programmes. The crushed debris will then be used in rehabilitation works.

A fourth project will help vulnerable farmers, pastoralists and internally displaced people build resilience to natural disasters under changing climatic conditions in South Sudan.

In addition to this support, Japan also provides important contributions to the Environment Fund, UNEP’s core fund.

The Environment Fund is instrumental in helping countries deliver the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2019, Japan contributed US$1.94 million to the Environment Fund.

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