BANGKOK (Reuters) – Southeast Asian nations vowed on Saturday to fight against plastic pollution in the ocean, as their leaders adopted a joint declaration during a summit in Bangkok.
The Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in ASEAN Region was adopted by leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which includes four of the world’s top polluters.
ASEAN members Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, along with worst offender China, throw the most plastic waste into oceans, according to a 2015 report co-authored by environmental campaigner Ocean Conservancy.
“All countries…value and emphasize environmental protection and support Thailand in including the agenda on safeguarding of the environment and combating marine debris, which matches a global agenda,” deputy government spokesman Werachon Sukondhapatipak told reporters on Saturday.
The declaration was commended by environmentalists as a good first step for the region, though doubts remained that implementation will be a challenge because the group has a code of non-interference that would leave necessary policymaking in the hands of individual member countries.
The 10 ASEAN countries vow to “strengthen actions at the national level as well as through collaborative actions…to prevent and significantly reduce marine debris,” according to the official document seen by Reuters.
They will also “strengthen national laws and regulations as well as enhance regional and international cooperation including on relevant policy dialogue and information sharing”.
Neither the declaration nor its accompanying Framework of Action specifically mention bans on single-use plastic or imports of foreign waste, as environmental groups previously demanded ahead of the summit. [L4N23O2TX]
The declaration came ahead of next week’s G20 summit in Japan, which assembles 20 major economies and will also aim to tackle marine plastic pollution.
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