Bridging the Policy Gap on Marine Plastic Litter through Data and Research Enhancement in South-East Asia


Bridging the Policy Gap on Marine Plastic Litter through Data and Research Enhancement in South-East Asia

Bangkok, 22 April 2022

A regional virtual consultation was held on 20 April 2022 with participating countries of the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA) and stakeholders from academia to introduce the expanded regional marine litter research inventory and online research database. The consultation aimed to gather comments and feedback from countries and researchers on format, content, and accessibility of the database to inform further development and integration in the East Asian Seas Regional Node of the Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML).

The event was organized by COBSEA Secretariat and the National University of Singapore (NUS) with funding support from the Government of Sweden through the SEA circular project, implemented jointly with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Sixty-two participants from eight COBSEA countries (People’s Republic of China, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, The Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Viet Nam), from UNEP and the GPML joined the consultation and provided valuable comments, suggestions and feedback to strengthen the database and research inventory.

Participants welcomed the platform as a key tool to accessing research and data from the region for evidence-based decision making on marine litter. They emphasized the importance of continuously updating and expanding the research database, including resources in languages from the region.

“I congratulate the team on putting together such an extensive source of information with is crucial to inform action at the national and regional level. MIMA is committed to contributing to this database and I look forward to seeing how this can be further enhanced.” – Cheryl Rita, Fellow & Head, Centre for Straits of Malacca, Maritime Institute of Malaysia (MIMA)

“I admire the hard work of your team to produce this kind of inventory, which is very time consuming – thank you for this effort!” – Vararin Vongpanich, Specialist, Biodiversity Research, Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Thailand.

Figure 1. Group Photo

Participants identified both policy makers and the research community as core users of the platform and stressed the importance of easy access and use of compiled data. Functions of the platform should cater to different stakeholder needs and become more suitable for decision makers in the region.

They expressed utter interest in expanding the database to include marine litter monitoring and research efforts led by government institutions to improve data comparability in the region and to include information on action plans and interventions at national and regional level under the East Asian Seas Regional Node to bridge the science-policy gap. Besides that, they welcomed factsheets on research areas under development by NUS to inform coordinated research efforts.

Additional feedback and comments following the event to further improve the database and inventory can be sent at

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Figure 2. Presentation by NUS Researcher (Ms. Ceng Ling)

About SEA circular project

The SEA circular project – Reducing marine litter by addressing the management of the plastic value chain in Southeast Asia is implemented by the UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA), with funding support from the Government of Sweden. SEA circular aims to reduce and prevent plastic pollution and its impact by working with governments, businesses, civil society, academia, and international partners. The initiative promotes market-based solutions and enabling policies to transform plastic value-chain management, strengthens the science base for informed decision making, creates outreach and awareness. The project leverages COBSEA’s regional mechanism to tackle the transboundary challenge of marine litter in a harmonized manner.

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