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Role Of Governments In Addressing Waste Highlighted At Third Clean Pacific Roundtable

Press Release – SPREP

17 November 2021, Apia – The role of governments in formulating and implementing robust policies and laws to help Pacific countries deal with waste management was highlighted during the second day of the Third Clean Pacific Roundtable (3rdCPRT). …

17 November 2021, Apia – The role of governments in formulating and implementing robust policies and laws to help Pacific countries deal with waste management was highlighted during the second day of the Third Clean Pacific Roundtable (3rdCPRT).

The technical session focusing on the Current Legislative environment in the Pacific and Government’s capacity to implement the Cleaner Pacific 2025, moderated by Climate Change and Environmental Expert, Ulu Bismarck Crawley, started with a presentation on a review into the current legislative environment in the Pacific provided by Jacqueline Peel, Professor of environmental and climate law at Melbourne Law School and the Director of the Melbourne Climate Futures.

The session also heard from five Pacific countries. Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Palau and Kiribati shared their successes, challenges and highlighted some of the emerging issues they are facing, as they look to scale up efforts to make their countries cleaner.

Speaking about the implementation of the Plastic Ban in Vanuatu, Ms Ionie Bolenga, Principal Officer Waste Management and Pollution Control for the Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation, said that since 2017, her government has actively been working to ban single-use plastics. In 2020, consultations started on banning single-use disposable diapers. She said waste management has become a public budget priority for the government since 2018 and this has resulted in Port Vila becoming cleaner. Vanuatu, she added, has become a role model to its neighbouring countries on waste management, and this is attracting more regional and international project initiatives.

Ms Claytoncy Taurarii, Waste Programme Coordinator, highlighted the work of Infrastructure Cook Islands in managing general waste, recycling and the operation of the landfill at the Rarotonga Waste Facility. She said solid waste is collected from the government ministries, private sector, residential homes and disposed at the landfill while recyclables are stored separately in designated bays. The meeting also heard that the management of the nation’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Bill is governed by three different government agencies to increase the interconnection between them to achieve the common goal, which is Zero waste. For successful government legislation, the Cook Islands urged the meeting to ensure the public consultation phase uses all means possible – including social media, text blasts, mainstream media and tiktok.

Ms Emily Lafai, Waste Regulatory Officer from Tuvalu’s Waste Management Department, highlighted the successes of their Integrated Waste Policy and Action Plan 2017-2026, which addresses issues such as littering, levy deposits, and the ban on single-use plastics. She said awareness programmes promoting acceptable waste management practices has resulted in less littering in public. improved compliance because of penalties and the complete phase out of the 12 items in single-use plastic ban regulation.

Palau provided an update on their Environmental Regulations while Kiribati highlighted the success of their new Environment Act. The technical session ended with a presentation on Asbestos Management from Lance Richman, SPREP’s PacWaste Plus Technical Waste Project Officer. The meeting was informed that SPREP Member nations have agreed to implement a ban on asbestos where support is being provided to develop national legislation to impose these bans.

Despite the successes and the progress made, all countries agreed there is more work to be done and that changing mindsets take time. They are positive however that if their governments continue to create and implement robust policies and regulations that are integrated into solutions, members of the public will slowly adapt and adopt a cleaner Pacific mindset.

The Clean Pacific Roundtable is the regional mechanism that empowers regional and national cooperation for the implementation of the Pacific Regional Waste and Pollution Management Strategy 2016-2025 (Cleaner Pacific 2025). This year’s meeting, which will run until next Thursday 25 November 2021, is focusing on the following key themes:

• Creating a safe Pacific Circular Economy

• Waste industry-based enterprise with enhanced public-private partnerships

• Bridging people and waste: Enhancing consciousness in managing waste

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