GEF 8 Plastics RESPONSE Project- Consultations and Project Planning Phase, Aitutaki

The GEF 8 Plastics RESPONSE Project will assist and support stakeholders reduce single use and problematic plastics within the food and beverage sector through direct financing of activities as well as policy and legislative strengthening, and also by increasing education and awareness of plastics impacts and alternative solutions.
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On March 20th 2024, a GEF-8 Plastics RESPONSE Project stakeholder consultation workshop was held at the Vaipae Sports Clubhouse, which saw participants from government and private sector in attendance. The team from the National Environment Services (NES) and Te Ipukarea Society (TIS) also conducted further one-on-one stakeholder engagement to find out more from stakeholders not present at the workshop.

The GEF 8 Plastics RESPONSE Project will assist and support stakeholders reduce single use and problematic plastics within the food and beverage sector through direct financing of activities as well as policy and legislative strengthening, and also by increasing education and awareness of plastics impacts and alternative solutions.

The purpose of the consultation workshop is to familiarize participants with the RESPONSE Project, to gain additional insight, input and ideas for the project planning phase and identify potential barriers and challenges stakeholders may face.

Given the short timeframe available to compile the necessary documentation for submission to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), additional support beyond the NES team was needed to collate baseline data and information, support stakeholder consultations, and assist in the preparation of all required outputs and deliverables. Hence NES partnered with Te Ipukarea Society to support us with these consultations, as documentation of the planning will be due in April.

Our project preparation team gained a lot of insight from a diverse range of stakeholders in the food and beverage industry or waste sector; including tourism operators, hotels and restaurants, retailers and vendors, local producers and growers, policy-makers and waste management. Their insights will help our project to effectively assist the food and beverage industry in adopting sustainable practices to minimize and substitute single-use plastics. The team from TIS were pleased with the spirit of cooperation and hospitality of all those that they spoke to. Everybody was very keen on finding a way forward in the reduction of plastic waste ending up in the landfill and our environment.

The team is now back in Rarotonga working through documentation ready to be reviewed by UNEP and submitted to the project donor, the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

NES would like to give our utmost appreciation to all stakeholders that took part in these consultations as well as the amazing team from Te Ipukarea Society for carrying out many of these consultations.

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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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