DG Sheppard's Opening Remarks at the Pacific Environment Forum 2014: Waste and Pollution Management in the Pacific - Status and Solutions, Majuro, Marshall Islands
Good morning, Yokwe, Talofa, Bonjour
It is a great pleasure to welcome you to the third Pacific Environment Forum.
The Pacific Environment Forum is an initiative by the Secretariat to provide an informal setting to discuss key environmental, technical and institutional issues.
The Forum is held prior to the SPREP Meeting to allow for the outcomes to be tabled at the Meeting for information.
I'm very pleased that this 2014 Forum will focus on waste and pollution management.
These issues are major challenges for our region and our discussion today is both timely and important.
Poor management of waste and pollution is a major threat to sustainable development in the Pacific region.
It has negative impacts on the region's environment, as well as on public health and water resources, as well as on fisheries, agriculture, tourism, trade and the quality of life in general.
As a consequence, improved waste and pollution management is an urgent priority for SPREP and for its Pacific island members.
SPREP is proud to work in partnership with the Government of Japan – through JICA and the innovative J-PRISM Project to improve regional waste and pollution management for present and future generations.
The aim of todays' Forum is to provide participants with the latest state of the art information and advice on waste and pollution management in our region.
This will enable Pacific Island countries and territories to take advantage of - and integrate - the most up-to-date information within national planning and actions for waste management.
It is important to recognise that the threats arising from pollution and poor waste management in our region are increased by:
• the increasing quantities of waste generated by economic and population growth in the region;
• the limited availability of suitable land for waste management facilities on most small islands and atolls;
• the remoteness of many Pacific island countries; and
• the small and often sparse populations of Pacific islands, even in regional centres, which limit economies of scale for local recycling of waste.
2014 Forum speakers will present on a range of waste and pollution management issues including:
• Regional hazardous waste assessments under the PacWaste Programme – these are proving highly effective in prioritizing interventions at a national level;
• Waste management and invasive species;
• Integrated waste management in small island and atoll situations;
• Used oil and E-waste recycling initiatives;
• The potential impact posed by World War Two wrecks; and
• The importance of the 3R's (Recycle, Reuse, and Refuse) and Return of waste resources
By the end of today we hope this Forum will have:
• Provided you with a good understanding of current regional and national waste and pollution management initiatives in our region;
• Helped identify priority areas for future targeted waste management intervention, at regional and national levels; and
• Helped identify regional and national recycling priorities for the next 5 years.
This last point – recycling - is a particular focus of todays' Forum, and will build on previous discussions at the SIDS Meeting in Samoa.
I would like to return to the 3Rs and Return of waste.
It is clear that if poor waste management is to be improved in our region, we need to take action now, and manage waste with the 3Rs in mind.
First, we must collectively REDUCE and conserve our use of resources and mimimise waste by-products;
Second, we must collectively REUSE goods where ever possible to reduce waste production;
And third, we must RECYCLE goods to minimize waste generation.
Recycling waste is a critical component of the sustainable solid waste management process, but this is not usually practical on small islands and on atolls.
Thus, RETURNING waste, generally to a developed nation, for recycling, is an essential component of long-term sustainable waste management practices in our region.
JICA/J-PRISM and SPREP have been actively promoting the "RETURN of recyclable materials from Pacific islands for environmentally sound recycling" and promoting "the RETURN of organic material back to the soil" to minimize waste disposed at landfills.
Development of international collaborations and partnerships, including regional, sub-regional and public-private-partnerships, are important to enable the "RETURN" component of the RECYCLING step in waste management to be both realized, and – importantly - to be sustainable.
This RETURN step is particularly important for sustainable recycling of island wastes such as E-waste, aluminium, used oil, scrap metal and plastics.
I hope you find the information presented by the forum's speakers both informative, and also a trigger for your discussion.
Forum participants, ladies and gentlemen.
It is clear that waste management must be improved in our region, and that we must take clear and effective action now, not in the future.
I would like to thank all involved in putting together an excellent agenda for our Forum today.
I would also like to acknowledge – with appreciation – our many partners, including the Government of Japan, through JICA and the JPRISM Project, the EU for the PacWaste Project, AFD and GEF/UNEP.
I believe that – TOGETHER - we are making a positive difference in helping the countries and territories of the Pacific region to better address the huge challenges of waste management and pollution.
I wish you all the best for a successful Forum.
Thank you, and I am happy to declare todays' Forum OPEN.