ASEAN ratifies Bangkok Declaration on marine debris

Thailand’s leadership resulted in the ratification of two landmark agreements to clean up the oceans as the ten countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ratified the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris and the ASEAN Framework of Action on Marine Debris at a meeting in the Thai capital last week.

“Thailand is the first country which raised the issue of marine debris [in ASEAN]. It shows our effort and commitment to tackling the growing problem of marine litter,” said Jatuporn Buruspat of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

ASEAN realizes it must play a central role in protecting the oceans. Five member states, including Thailand, are among the top ten countries polluting the seas with plastic and various forms of waste. The others are Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Most were unaware of the scope of the problem and their role in it until recently.

Jatuporn said that ASEAN officials would discuss the most effective ways to implement the two agreements when they meet this month. Thailand is the chair country of ASEAN in 2019. The Kingdom has made forging partnerships for sustainability the theme of its term.

“We will follow up on how each signatory is taking action on marine pollution,” Jatuporn said.

About 80 percent of the plastic and other waste in the oceans originates on land, he added, and not from sea-based activities such as fishing.

Thailand is in the process of banning single-use plastic items. The government and major private companies are promoting the circular economy, which is based on the principles of wise use of natural resources, reusing, and recycling.

Several countries in the region, including Thailand, have also banned imports of waste from other countries, which were contributing to the problem.

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