Government officials and researchers from Mekong river countries on Wednesday agreed to assess plastic waste pollution in the region and take action to reduce it.
The agreement was made by 50 government officials and researchers from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam during a meeting in Vientiane earlier this week to discuss methodologies on how to study plastic debris found across the region and their sources. The meeting was hosted by Mekong River Commission and the United Nations Environment Program Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.
MRC in a statement yesterday said government officials and researchers of all four countries agreed to conduct a study to inform governments and the public of the current state of plastic waste in the region and offer policy recommendations to address challenges.
“The assessment will involve monitoring and collecting plastic debris and waste leakage in five sites located in major urban cities along the Mekong River, including Phnom Penh, Chiang Rai, Vientiane, Ubon Ratchathani and Can Tho, where four Mekong universities will take the lead,” it said.
An Pich Hatda, chief executive officer of the MRC Secretariat, yesterday said member states will conduct national reviews on the status and current trends of plastic debris.
Mr Pich Hatda said this includes reviewing legal and institutional frameworks for plastic pollution management.
“The reviews are aimed to provide a better picture and understanding of plastic issues in each of the four countries,” he said, adding the study is part of the MRC’s 2020 work plan.
He said the MRC will then formulate a long-term activity aimed at monitoring, assessing and providing policy recommendations to member countries, using results from national reviews and a counter-measure project.
“We hope to incorporate the findings into our next Mekong State of the Basin report to provide a [detailed] statement of past trends and present conditions within the basin and to track changes brought about by the Mekong cooperation,” Mr Pich Hatda said.
Te Navuth, permanent vice chairman of the National Mekong Committee, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Kakuko Nagatani Yoshida, regional coordinator for UNEP, yesterday said addressing plastic pollution will help to promote the environment sector and reduce its impact on people living along the waterway.