World Bank Approves US$20 Million Regional Grant for ASEAN to Combat Marine Plastic Pollution in Southeast Asia

WASHINGTON — The World Bank will support ASEAN Member States to reduce marine plastic pollution with a US$20 million grant for the Southeast Asia Regional Program on Combating Marine Plastics (SEA-MaP), approved today by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors.

Southeast Asia has emerged as a hot spot for plastic pollution because of rapid urbanization and a rising middle class. The economic costs are significant, with the direct damage to key blue economy sectors in ASEAN Member States alone estimated at US$2.1 billion in 2015. Further, the entire lifecycle of plastic, including its manufacturing and transport, creates billions of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

The World Bank will work with the ASEAN Secretariat and partners at both regional and country levels to strengthen polices and regulatory frameworks governing the production and use of plastics in Southeast Asia. The project aims to reduce plastic consumption, increase recycling, and minimize leakages to prevent land and sea-based marine plastic pollution. It will also support coastal and blue economies, which are particularly affected by marine litter and its effects on several key sectors—fisheries, tourism, and shipping.

“Reducing plastic pollution in the world’s rivers and oceans requires country-level action and collective, coordinated efforts. We are pleased to help ASEAN Member States work together to reduce marine plastics pollution and address the negative effect plastics can have on the economy, environment, climate and health,” said Manuela V. Ferro, World Bank Vice President for East Asia and the Pacific.

Working with ASEAN member states, the World Bank has undertaken country-specific diagnostic market studies on plastics and is supporting the development of national action plans and roadmaps relating to phasing out single-use plastics and strengthening plastics circularity. The Bank is also financing solid waste management to stop plastics from leaking into the environment.

With shared rivers and coastlines, as well as linked markets in plastic products and plastic waste trade, there is a clear need for both national and coordinated regional actions. This regional program convenes countries and regional institutions around a shared interest in combating plastic pollution in Southeast Asia. It will strengthen regional policies and institutions for plastics circularity, and will establish regional platforms to promote innovations, knowledge, and partnerships for plastics circularity.

“Our seas and coasts are crucial for our lives and livelihoods, yet they are under immense pressure, especially due to marine plastic pollution, which has the potential to damage human health and negatively impact the tourism and fishing industries vital to our region’s economies. This regional project demonstrates the commitment and resolve of our member states to proactively address this cross-border issue and improve the health of our oceans and the lives of the numerous people in ASEAN who rely on them,” said Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of ASEAN.

SEA-MaP will be implemented by the ASEAN Secretariat in close collaboration with ASEAN Member States and partners, aligned with the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in ASEAN Region (2019), and the ASEAN Regional Action Plan for Combating Marine Debris (2021).

 

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