„The Plastic Initiative“ is a global initiative led by UNESCO Bangkok Office, to beat plastic pollution, by implementing innovative concepts and new ideas. The first phase of the project is focusing on implementing solutions in costal areas in Asia Pacific. On invitation of UNESCO I was attending the event in Hanoi, Viet Nam, and will support the initiative in the coming months.
Plastic waste is not new, so is plastic waste pollution. It is now a global issue that needs collective efforts. That is why “The Plastic Initiative” has been officially launched in Hanoi in March 2019, to call for joint efforts from different countries and sectors across the Asia Pacific region.
Grass-root plastic waste management projects and an action plan for Asia Pacific countries are in the focus of this initiative. Policy areas, successful models, international experience and joint on-the-ground action were main topics during the kick-off event at the UN house in Hanoi. With national and international participants the event was the first of its kind and will be followed by different activities like youth conferences, community events and crowd funding campaigns for promising project ideas. In particular UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in Asia Pacific should serve as open laboratories to develop solutions to beat the plastic beast. This will include many of the protected areas in costal ecosystems, as well as areas of tourism activities.
Therefore, and to better understand and assess the current situation of mangrove ecosystems in the Mekong sub-region and the extent of plastic pollution in coastal biosphere reserves of Vietnam, a group of national and international experts visited Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve together with the science teams of UNESCO from Bangkok and Hanoi on a two-day field trip.
Participants discussed with local experts how to best implement and coordinate conservation actions on the ground. Close coordination and transboundary cooperation between coastal biosphere reserves in Asia-Pacific was identified as one of the key aspects for improvement and will play a big role in the follow-up actions.
Images from the Hanoi event and the Cat Ba field trip