The Cook Islands attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Indo-Pacific Workshop on Marine Plastic Debris recently held in Indonesia. The Government of Indonesia, New Zealand’s mission to ASEAN and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), organized the workshop with some Ministerial attendance. The Cook Islands was represented by NES Environmental Compliance Manager, Vavia Tangatataia, Digital & Communications Coordinator Moana Tetauru, and Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) Acting Waste Management Manager Claytoncy Taurarii.
As Indonesia is the Chair of ASEAN, one of their priorities is to focus on the Pacific. Plastic waste in the marine environment is a transboundary issue that is shared by many ASEAN and Pacific countries. Vavia Tangataia highlighted the ongoing plastic waste issues faced by the Cook Islands and encouraged all to be mindful of the impacts this has to Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The statement was echoed by Kiribati who is also facing the impacts of marine debris and plastic waste.
The issue of marine plastic waste management was selected as it is a shared challenge faced by ASEAN and Pacific countries and is estimated that plastic waste in the ocean will account for more than 80% of all marine debris by 2050.
One of the main key objectives was to facilitate the exchange of views between countries in the Indo-Pacific region on effective plastic management systems, plastic recycling capacity, growing populations, and people’s plastic lifestyles.
The workshop brought together scientific experts from ASEAN and the Pacific to discuss approaches to the ongoing impacts of plastic pollution. The Cook Islands also met with New Zealand experts to discuss financial and technology opportunities to tackle marine plastic pollution.