Tekura Moeka’a, from the National Environment Service, attended the Global Plastics Summit held in Bangkok this month. The summit was hosted by Economist Impact.
Economist Impact, a program under The Economist Group, collaborates with corporations, foundations, NGOs, and governments on pivotal global themes such as sustainability, health, and the evolving landscape of globalisation. Their mission is to drive and foster progress by employing wide range of capabilities such as policy research, design thinking and organising global events like the Global Plastics Summit.
During the summit, Tekura Moeka’a took part in a panel discussion co-hosted by Cook Islands, Samoa, and the Environmental Investigation Agency. The focus of the discussion was on the ‘zero draft’ approach to plastic waste management, with particular emphasis on the sectoral approach. While acknowledging the importance of this approach, concerns were expressed over the lack of specific details on its implementation. Furthermore, she highlighted the critical case of fishing gear, a matter of profound significance for large Ocean States like the Pacific Islands, where the impact of ghost fishing gear on marine ecosystems is disproportionately significant.
The fisheries sector, integral to the livelihoods of numerous coastal communities, stands to benefit greatly from a well-defined sectoral approach. It is necessary for concrete language detailing how this approach can be effectively operationalised, especially within a framework sensitive to the realities of small island developing states.
A vital point regarding the placement of Fishing Gear within the waste management section of the ‘zero draft’ was raised. This allocation diminishes the focus on design when it should encompass the entire life cycle of the product. A comprehensive approach is essential to address the broader environmental impact of fishing gear.
Notably, there are still discussions that will need to take place in sectors like fisheries, agriculture and textiles around regional or international legislations and organisations.
The Global Plastics Summit also provided a platform for experts including chemical engineers and Ministers of Environment to present on topics related to Reuse Systems and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Systems to name a few. Robust discussions in the breakout sessions in the plastic space fostered a dynamic exchange of ideas and strategies to combat the challenges posed by plastic waste and more so for Pacific Small Island States who are entangled.