To reduce the adverse impact of plastic pollution on the marine environment, the Government of India in partnership with the Government of Australia and Singapore conducted an international workshop on combating marine pollution focusing on marine plastic debris from February 14-15, 2022.
The workshop bought the world’s leading experts, scientists, government officials with policy expertise, and representatives from industry, innovation, and informal sectors together.
The workshop aimed to discuss research interventions toward monitoring and assessing marine litter, as well as plausible long-term solutions to address the global marine plastic pollution problem.
It had four major sessions; the magnitude of the marine litter problem-monitoring program and research on plastic debris in the Indo-Pacific Region; best practices and technologies; solutions to prevent plastic pollution; and polymers and plastics: technology and innovations and opportunities for regional collaboration to remediate or stop plastic pollution. The sessions involved panel discussions and interactive break-out sessions to encourage discussion amongst participants from East Asia Summit countries.
East Asia Summit:
The East Asia Summit (EAS) is the premier forum for discussions on important strategic issues in the Indo-Pacific and a leading confidence-building mechanism. Since its inception in 2005, the EAS has been advocating regional peace, security, closer regional cooperation, and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean region.
The EAS is uniquely placed to share expertise and lessons learned among regions and sub-regions faced with interconnected and similar challenges in order to develop long-term transboundary solutions. The EAS countries recognize the problem of coastal and marine plastic pollution. At the 14th EAS, held in Bangkok in November 2019, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, announced an agenda aimed at promoting maritime cooperation throughout the Indo-Pacific region. India, Singapore, and Australia are all committed to putting the EAS decisions into action.
This workshop provided an impetus for EAS countries to explore and inform each other about the challenges, questions, and solutions to marine litter – particularly plastic research, use, design, disposal, recycling, and future collaborations for a plastic-free and healthy ocean for sustainable development through knowledge partners – the National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), Chennai, an attached office of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), the Government of Singapore and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia.
Dr. M Ravichandran, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences in his keynote address suggested considering the application of technological tools such as remote sensing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to map the distribution of marine plastics and developing models to understand the dynamics of plastics in the Indian ocean. He also emphasized that a well-designed and tailor-made management strategy that takes into regional distinctiveness will significantly reduce plastics in the environment.