Joining as a speaker at the Plenary Session on ‘Voices for Solutions to the Plastic Pollution Conundrum’ at the invitation of the UN Environment Regional Office in Bangkok, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to UNESCAP, Ambassador Samantha Jayasuriya pledged on Sri Lanka’s continued commitment to encourage more private public partnerships and multi-stakeholder engagements for innovative solutions for plastic pollution, including producing micro filaments for cleaning tools, yarns for apparels such as the T20 Cricket Gear, Galle Dialogue T-Shirts from plastic wastes, promoting circular economy.
The event was a culmination of the inaugural four-day meeting of the ‘Seas of East Asia (SEA) of Solution 2019 – Partnership week for marine plastic pollution prevention in South East Asia’, held from 11 -14 November 2019 at the UNCC, Bangkok. SEA of Solutions 2019 which brought in a cross section of voices such as the largest private sector PET producer IndoRama Group pledging 1.5 billion Dollar investment for recycling, Coca Cola East Asia on introducing clear plastics, non-formal sector activists, youth leaders and volunteers, Government representatives from Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and Sri Lanka.
Ambassador Jayasuriya attended the networking breakfast earlier in the day with Helen Ågren, Ambassador for the Ocean, Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the opening session of the Day - 4 which was graced by H.E. Varawut Silpa-archa, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Thailand, who shared insights on the urgency of addressing the marine plastic pollution and explained actions by Thailand.
Further speaking at the plenary session on voices for solutions to the plastic pollution conundrum, Ambassador Jayasuriya also said Sri Lanka will take action to fully implement the 2017 policy initiative of banning selected polythene and polythene products, and to expand the ‘Beach Park Programme’ currently covering a 90 km long stretch of beaches that was assigned to families living in the areas to clean and handover the plastic waste to recyclers.
SEA of Solutions 2019 showcased 29 exhibitors, where a Sri Lankan researcher from the Asian Institute of Technology, Dr. Kavinda Gunasekara displayed the ongoing project on developing plastic leakage scenarios in the Mekong River basin using Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing technologies. A short video on the story of making the official jersey for Sri Lanka Cricket T- 20 out of the recycled marine plastic waste, collaboratively by MAS Holdings, Eco Spindle and Sri Lanka Cricket in partnership with Sri Lanka Navy was also displayed at the exhibition. Second Secretary Saritha Ranatunga of the Embassy coordinated Sri Lanka’s Participation at the pledging event with the support of the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) of Sri Lanka and the Ocean Affairs Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.