Japan and UNEP deepen cooperation on plastic pollution

Japan and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are extending their efforts to tackle plastic pollution across Asia. Japan will contribute 6.9 million U.S.. dollars to four UNEP-led projects.

Japan and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have announced a new cooperative effort to tackle plastic pollution across Asia and support post-conflict environmental recovery in Iraq and South Sudan.

The bulk of Japan’s USD 6.9 million will fund a second phase of the CounterMEASURE project, which is determining the origins of plastic pollution in some of Asia’s major rivers and has supported establishment of local partnerships for reducing plastic pollution, according to a statement.

The first phase of the year-long project has used novel technologies and methodologies to track plastic pollution to its sources along the Mekong and Ganges rivers.

The second phase will further policy and behavior changes in Mekong countries and India, and work on bringing techniques to other locales, such as Sri Lanka. It will also look at the impact of plastic pollution on wildlife, particularly migratory species.

A second project under the funding package will support research into how to manage and treat plastic waste throughout Asia.

“The global pandemic COVID-19 and the generation of additional plastic waste will amplify our urgent needs to find solutions to the crisis of plastic pollution. Japan’s support and expertise in waste management is incredibly vital to finding solutions to these problems,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP, in the statement.

Japan’s grant is intended to bolster the country’s MARINE Initiative toward the realization of its Osaka Blue Ocean Vision, aimed at reducing additional pollution by marine plastic litter to zero by 2050, which was announced at the G20 meeting in Osaka in 2019.

Part of the Japanese backing will also support conflict debris management in Iraq. As parts of Iraq recover from the destructive conflict with the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), this project will aim to aid returnees in Kirkuk Governorate by clearing their homes and providing livelihoods through debris recycling programmes. The crushed debris will then be used in rehabilitation works.

A fourth project will help vulnerable farmers, pastoralists and internally displaced people build resilience to natural disasters under changing climatic conditions in South Sudan.

Photo credit: Agustin Rafael Reyes, flickr/Creative Commons

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