Regional stakeholders are setting the table for the Third Clean Pacific Roundtable, which will be held in New Caledonia in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP).
The event was originally scheduled for October last year, but has been postponed due to Covid-19 pandemic. SPREP said the new date and other details will be announced later.
The event will provide a forum for stakeholders and practitioners to discuss pending actions toward achieving the region's goals under the Cleaner Pacific 2016-2025 strategy, with the private sector having a key role in achieving the vision.
The private sector will be represented by Acotred Pacific, the cluster of Pacific waste collection and treatment professionals that was formed in 2011.
“The role of our private sector in bringing about a Cleaner Pacific, is an extremely valuable one, and we’re excited work together on the third Clean Pacific Roundtable,” said Anthony Talouli, the acting director of Waste Management and Pollution Control of SPREP.
“Covid-19 brings another facet to the planning and the waste challenge itself. We know that a collaborative approach from us all across our Pacific islands region, can help make a difference.”
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed last year in New Caledonia between SPREP and the government, as well as between the government and Acotred Pacific, formalizing the partnerships.
A biennial event, the Clean Pacific Roundtable is the largest waste conference to be held in the Pacific islands’ region. First held in 2016, it has since grown in scale of participation witnessed in 2018. The 2021 event which will be a virtual event, is projected to see a greater increase in participation due to the virtual nature of the conference.
“The importance of a Cleaner Pacific cannot be emphasized enough – unmanaged waste not only impacts our health, but our islands, our ocean and future generations to come. The Third Clean Pacific Roundtable is a significant event for the Pacific,” said Talouli.
“Although in the very early planning stages with partners and members, we are inviting all stakeholders including members of the private sector working in waste management to take note of this event ahead. We need a collaboration of all actors in the region to address the issues we face.”
In the meantime, SPREP has released three new resources to help Pacific islands prepare for management of disaster waste generated by tropical cyclones, floods, and other natural disasters.
With five Pacific islands ranked in the top 15 countries world-wide with the highest disaster risk, addressing disaster waste is crucial, SPREP said.
The 2020 World Risk Report has ranked Vanuatu as the country with the world’s highest disaster risk, Tonga as second and Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Fiji ranked fifth, eighth and fifteenth respectively.
Priority waste streams include hazardous wastes (specifically asbestos, E-waste and healthcare waste), solid wastes (specifically recyclables, organic waste, disaster waste and bulky waste) and related aspects of wastewater.
Asbestos Contaminated Material – Guide for disaster debris removal, Managing Disaster Waste: A guide for communities (Factsheet) and National Disaster Waste Management Plans: Benefits Of Having Disaster Waste Management Plans and Planning To Pacific Islands were published by SPREP in 2020, through the Pacific-EU Waste Management Program (PacWastePlus) program, a 64-month project funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by SPREP.
“These are just one initiative of a range of activities we are working with our SPREP Members on and we continue to work with partners to support our Members,” Talouli said.
“There are a wide range of devastating impacts caused by disasters for our Pacific islands, we are appreciative of the opportunity to work with you all to build our Pacific resilience. We are hopeful our work together to address disaster waste will result in positive outcomes for our region.”