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Speeches & Transcripts March 11, 2019

World Bank Statement at the Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Marine Debris

Your Excellency General Surasak Karnjanarat, Excellencies from ASEAN countries and invited countries, and colleagues from international agencies.

Thank you to the Royal Thai Government for your excellent arrangements of this event and for your gracious invitation to participate. I am honored to be here today on behalf of the World Bank Group to address this eminent group, to underline the importance of ASEAN in addressing the global Crisis of Plastic Waste, and to pledge World Bank Group support to ASEAN and its members on this agenda. Our Interim President Kristalina Georgieva has emphasized the importance of this agenda at recent G7 and G20 meetings, and at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

As we have heard earlier, five of the top ten global polluting countries are ASEAN members. This means that ASEAN is one of the most important regional institutions able to make a difference, and there is no doubt that progress in ASEAN means progress on a global scale.

On behalf of the World Bank Group, I congratulate ASEAN for taking a lead role in the fight against plastic pollution and commend member states for your commitment and action. With large populations, vibrant economies and long coastlines, each of your countries is already feeling the impacts of marine plastics pollution and I know that each is taking action already. A few examples:

  • Indonesia is moving to implement its National Marine Debris Action Plan which commits to reducing plastic waste by 70 percent by 2025;
  • In Vietnam, the government has starting to develop the National Action Plan on Management of Ocean Plastic Waste, and will also explore legislation and policies related to plastics pollution;
  • In the Philippines, the government has already drafted a National Strategy on Marine Litter, which shall provide the basis for a subsequent Master Plan on Marine Plastics Management;
  • And last, but not least, Thailand – as chair of ASEAN 2019 – has drafted the Bangkok Regional Declaration on marine litter. The government is also exploring options for Extended Producer Responsibility and Public-Private Partnerships (PPP).

The World Bank has already mobilized to help at the global, regional and national level through financing modalities and investments:

  • ProBLUE is a new global Multi-Donor Trust Fund, that was launched in 2018, with a strong focus on marine litter. Some of the early commitments will be for East Asia, as one of the first movers;
  • In the East Asia region, our regional leadership team headed by our Vice President has established marine plastics as a priority topic for World Bank Group support in East Asia and we have developed a World Bank Regional Marine Plastics Framework and Action plan to align our engagements across sectors and countries;
  • At the national level, we are already working with several national governments (Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Philippines, Myanmar and Vietnam) to support the development and implementation of policies and regulations, enhance analytic capacity, and finance critical investments. In Indonesia, we have established an Oceans Multi-Donor Trust Fund, with a major focus on marine litter.

Choosing our planet over plastic will require that we work together in partnership. The World Bank sees ASEAN as a critical partner to support countries in this region identify, prioritize and implement suitable solutions to reduce plastics pollution.

I am delighted to announce today that the World Bank is making available considerable grant resources under the ProBLUE Trust Fund for ASEAN 2019 in furthering the agenda on Marine Plastics. These resources will help to build the foundations of effective regional collaboration, and joint action. We plan to:

  • Support ASEAN 2019 and ASEAN 2020 in developing and implementing an ASEAN Regional Action Plan, building from the draft Bangkok Declaration presented at this Special Ministerial Meeting;
  • Develop clear, harmonized methods and protocols for assessments of plastics leakage into river systems and along coastlines – for implementation in ASEAN member states;
  • Undertake regional studies to assess economic impacts related to plastics pollution in the ASEAN region, and disaggregated analysis across countries;
  • Commission regional analysis to identify a suite of solutions both upstream, through application economic instruments and incentive mechanisms, as well as downstream, through technology and innovations.

We hope that this work together with the Framework conducted by ASEAN members and supported by the World Bank and others, can lead to identification of sound public, public-private and private projects that can be supported at scale through IDA, IBRD, and IFC financing in the future.

Finally, the problem of plastics has been created in our lifetimes. Half of the plastic ever manufactured was made only in the last 15 years. The costs of inaction are rising – and jointly, we can roll out urgent and concrete actions. We stand ready to support.

Thank you.