Jakarta. Indonesia and New Zealand on Wednesday (06/09) co-chaired the East Asia Summit Conference on Combating Marine Plastic Debris in Bali, as countries seek to address the issue in a collective effort to protect the environment.
"Our ocean faces a serious problem. Every year, at least 12.7 tons of plastic debris are thrown into the ocean. They not only pollute the ocean, but endanger the continuity of all living beings, including us," said Jose Tavares, the Ministry of Foreign Affair's director-general for cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
According to a statement released by the ministry, Jose spoke during the conference’s opening ceremony on behalf of Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi, who was unable to attend as she is currently on an official visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh to negotiate a solution to the worsening humanitarian crisis in that country's northwestern Rakhine State.
Eighty percent of plastic debris polluting the ocean comes from land-based sources, mainly due to ineffective waste management and unregulated behavior from coastal communities across the globe in managing plastic waste. Plastic debris poses a real challenge as an environmental hazard to countries across the world, while potential economic losses as a result of increased water pollution might end up costing billions of dollars.
During the conference, Jose said the East Asia Summit (EAS) must play an "active and crucial role [to combat marine plastic debris]," expressing Indonesia's hope that the two-day conference will produce concrete solutions to resolve the issue at hand.
This week’s conference is a follow-up to a 2015 statement from EAS on enhancing regional maritime cooperation. The conference is expected to craft policy recommendations to help support efforts to solve the issue of marine plastic debris among EAS countries.
EAS is an 18-member forum comprising East Asian, Southeast Asian and South Asian countries, as well as the United States and Russia. Leaders of EAS member countries will convene for an annual meeting in the Philippines in November.
The Indonesian government has already taken a number of approaches to address marine plastic debris pollution, including by issuing a presidential regulation on Indonesian Maritime Policy in 2017 and a National Plan of Action on Marine Plastic Debris for 2017-2025.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry said in the statement that Indonesia is already enforcing policies to utilize waste as an energy source. Furthermore, 15 Indonesian cities – including Denpasar, Bali – are partaking in a study to combat marine plastic debris.