20 September 2021
The Ministry of Environment and Water Malaysia (KASA), alongside the MIMA’s Centre for Coastal and Marine Environment, co-facilitated a town hall session discussing the formulation and implementation of the National Marine Litter Policy and Action Plan (2021-2030).
The Consultative Session
The town hall session aimed to continue gathering feedback and inputs, and address concerns and the way forward for the National Marine Litter Policy and Action Plan 2021 – 2030. Hence, the session engaged relevant stakeholders at the national level, including government, non-governmental organisations, local councils, academic experts, and industry players, and others to address issues and needs on marine litter issues in Malaysia. Some 90 participants attended the session.
Deputy Secretary-General (Environment) of KASA Dato’ Jana Santhiran and Chairman of MIMA Dato’ Mohamed Suffian graced the session with opening remarks. They stressed the need to address the issue through inspired solutions and enabling policies effectively, actions and strategies to address marine litter pollution at the national level.
Welcoming addresses by KASA and MIMA emphasised the need to holistically address the environmental issue through integrated actions and cooperation from all stakeholders.
Marine litter is a significant threat to the oceans. Solid materials of human origin are discarded at sea or reach the sea through waterways or domestic and industrial outfalls. They comprise a wide range of materials such as persistent plastics, lost and abandoned fishing gears, and other pollutants. It contributes to ecological, environmental, and socio-economic impacts, including ingestion by and entanglement of marine life, fouling of coastlines and interference with navigation.
Global data show increasing levels of garbage washing up coastlines and accumulating at sea, including in very remote places. An estimated three times more garbage (much of it plastic) is discarded into the oceans each year, compared to the number of fish taken out. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) report shows that plastic production has increased exponentially since the early 1950s and is expected to double by the next decade.
In line with this, MIMA is working closely with KASA at the national and regional platforms under the “Reducing Marine Litter by Addressing the Management of Plastic Value Chain in South East Asia” (SEA circular Project), an initiative from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA) involving six countries, i.e., Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. The programme inspires market-based solutions and encourages policies to solve marine plastic pollution at the source, and will be conducted in phases. It recognises the need for a more sustainable and effective approach for the long run.
The policy document is one of the outputs coordinated by MIMA in cooperation with KASA. Comprises of six desirable national outcomes implemented through 17 identified actions and 85 key activities, all grouped under five priority pillars as presented by Ms Cheryl Rita Kaur, Head of CMER, on the overview of the policy action plan document to the stakeholders.
Cheryl Rita from MIMA presenting the formulation and background of the policy and action plan document
The session then followed with Ms Nor Haswani as KASA’s representative, presenting their case study for Technology and Solutions for Plastic Waste on Small Remoted Islands in Malaysia. The presentation highlighted the need and potential solutions applicable in reducing the presence of litter on the island. Having limited access to waste management compared to the mainland, they needed to find creative ways to overcome the issue.
The meeting agreed on the significance of required efforts to address concerns and was supportive of the endeavour for Malaysia. This week, we will continue the discussions through a follow-up Stakeholders’ Workshop, scheduled on 24 September 2021, to discuss the proposed actions further.
Participants at the session included representatives from diverse backgrounds and affiliations.
MIMA looks forward to playing a pivotal role in ensuring a timely and practical policy and action plan document is prepared, alongside KASA addressing marine litter pollution.