Cook Islands engage in Asia Pacific Regional Consultations leading up to Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee-4

The training presented technological advancements and discussed their effective utilization in Pacific countries for monitoring plastic pollution.

As efforts intensify to establish an international legally binding instrument addressing plastic pollution including in the marine environment, the forthcoming INC-4 is scheduled to take place in Ottawa, Canada in April this year.

In preparation for this meeting, various Regional Groups, including the Asia Pacific Group, have either convened or are scheduled to meet to discuss essential components of the Revised Zero Draft.

Tekura Moeka’a from the National Environment Service and Peka Fisher from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs represented the Cook Islands at the Asia Pacific Group Regional Consultations held in Bangkok, Thailand.

The primary objective of this gathering was to facilitate member countries in sharing insights, brainstorming, and deliberating on key aspects outlined in the Revised Zero Draft. Noteworthy areas of agreement, such as waste management, were identified, yet substantial disparities surfaced, particularly in discussions related to Polymers of Concern and Chemicals of Concern.

The outcomes of these regional consultations will serve as a foundation for tackling these pivotal issues at the upcoming INC-4 meeting in Ottawa.

Following the consultations, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), through the One Plastics Initiative, ongoing projects, and Regional Seas programmes, hosted a regional knowledge-sharing meeting on plastic pollution, centering discussions around the interests of Member States.

In preparation for this event, surveys were distributed to gauge countries’ interests, aligning with the categories outlined in the revised draft text of the international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including its impact on the marine environment. The meeting aims to facilitate in-depth discussions on key topics such as Polymers of Concern, Chemicals of Concern, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), and the financial landscape, tailored to the interests of members.

Simultaneously, UNEP remains at the forefront of the global fight against plastic pollution with the “Strengthening Plastic Pollution Management in Asia and the Pacific” project, generously funded by the Government of Japan. This initiative responds to the critical need for science-informed and data-driven strategies, focusing on enhancing assessment and monitoring capacities in the Pacific Islands.

The training presented technological advancements and discussed their effective utilization in Pacific countries for monitoring plastic pollution. For example, the use of CCTV can be a tool to assess pollution on land by taking images and identify the pollution source for a period of time. Another example, is the use of hydrological tools to identify hot spots (where rubbish ends up) due to water flow.

The overarching goal was to foster collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and empower Pacific nations to implement effective measures against plastic pollution.

This was also an opportunity for  UNEP and its partners to solutions ways through discussions with the Pacific to contribute to the sustainable management of plastic waste, safeguarding the environment and cultural heritage of the Pacific regions.

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The National Environment Service is established to protect, conserve and ensure the Cook Islands environment is managed sustainably. The agency is headed by a Director with delegated powers to carry out the functions of the Environment Act 2003.

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