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ASEAN leaders to vow at summit to tackle marine debris

A file photo of plastic waste along a coast in Conakry, Guinea, taken in September 2017. (Kyodo)

BANGKOK (Kyodo) -- Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will commit to tackle the growing problem of marine debris, in particular plastics, during their summit later this month, an ASEAN sources said Monday.

    The source said the leaders of the 10-member ASEAN will make the vow in the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in ASEAN Region, to be inked during their summit to be held on June 23 in Bangkok.

    Citing a four-page draft of the declaration, the source said the leaders will call for strengthening actions at the national level, as well as through international collaboration, to prevent and significantly reduce marine debris.

    The leaders will also pledge to enhance policy dialogue and information sharing, implement partnerships between the public and private sectors, and promote innovative solutions to reducing plastic litter, including through development of a circular economy whereby plastics are kept out of the environment and instead returned to production through reuse and recycling.

    The leaders will also commit to devote more scientific and research work to combating marine debris and to increase public awareness and participation through advocacy and education, with the aim of changing people's behavior.

    The draft shows ASEAN's concern over the high and rapidly increasing levels of marine plastic litter and other debris, and the adverse impacts on marine biodiversity, ecosystems, animal well-being, fisheries, maritime transport, recreation, tourism, local societies and economies.

    It cites an urgent need for strengthened knowledge of the levels and effects of microplastics and nanoplastics on the marine ecosystem, food safety and human health.

    The declaration will follow a statement issued at last November's East Asian Summit in Singapore, in which the leaders of 16 ASEAN and other countries in the region committed to take concrete actions on combating marine plastic debris, in particular to explore the possible development of an EAS regional plan of action and guidelines.

    ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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