Building Foundation for a Robust National Marine Litter Monitoring Programme in the South-East Asia


Building Foundation for a Robust National Marine Litter Monitoring Programme in the South-East Asia

Bangkok, 14 April 2022

A virtual consultation with SEA circular target countries was held on 4 April, 2022 to strengthen marine litter monitoring efforts in line with Regional Guidance on Harmonized National Marine Litter Monitoring Programmes adopted by the 25th Intergovernmental Meeting of the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA). 

The event was organized by COBSEA Secretariat and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) with funding support from the Government of Sweden through the SEA circular project, implemented jointly with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

26 participants from four COBSEA countries (Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Viet Nam) joined the webinar to share countries’ needs and existing capacities on monitoring and guide next steps to strengthen and develop national monitoring programmes.

Countries discussed about the possible purpose of national monitoring programmes to address national priorities, including tracking the sources, flows and impacts of marine litter and effectiveness of policy responses over time. Countries showed interest in improving and expanding monitoring efforts across habitats and learning new monitoring methods. Thailand expressed their interest in understanding the effective use of artificial intelligence and technology to assist monitoring efforts.

Representatives also welcomed planned technical assistance and capacity building activities on monitoring under SEA circular, including national training on monitoring and assessment of national marine litter baselines.

“Malaysia recently launched a national action plan on marine litter. We hope COBSEA can assist us in developing and harmonizing our monitoring programme.”, said Mr. Mohd Redzuan Bin Ramli, Assistant Secretary of Environmental Management Division, Ministry of Environment and Water, Malaysia.

“Cambodia faces many marine litter issues and needs technical support and capacity building to develop a national baseline.”, said Mr. Monomoyith Than, Vice Chief office, Department of Marine and Coastal Zone Conservation, Ministry of Environment, Cambodia.

In the coming months, COBSEA will work with CSIRO to conduct follow-up national consultations to guide the following activities:

  • Technical assistance for developing harmonized national marine litter monitoring programmes;
  • Capacity building on marine litter monitoring;
  • Establishing national baselines on marine litter;
  • Informing regional assessment of marine litter status and trends.

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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