EU-funded Waste Reduction Campaign Focuses on Reducing Plastic, Food Waste in Southeast Asia

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Petir Garda Bhwana

Rabu, 2 Agustus 2023 13:50 WIB

Youth delegates from an EU-funded regional campaign on waste reduction in South-East Asia with United Cities and Local Governments Asia-Pacific (UCLG ASPAC) Secretary General Dr Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi (sixth from left) and Thailand's Chiang Mai Mayor Atsani Puranupakorn (third from left) at the ASEAN Mayors Forum in Jakarta on 1 August 2023.

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - A group of inspiring youth advocates from South-East Asia is spearheading a regional campaign for waste reduction, an initiative materialised from the ‘EU-ASEAN Youth Exchange on Sustainable Urban Development’ in Bangkok on March 31 and April 1, 2023, according to a press release received by Tempo on August 1, 2023

The EU-funded campaign focuses on reducing plastic and food waste in Southeast Asia. It shines a spotlight on the waste management problems in the region and amplifies real stories of youth activists who are making an impact in innovative ways to tackle these issues and improve the livelihood of their own cities and communities.

With best practice from an expanding network of young movers and shakers, the youth advocates participated in the ASEAN Mayors Forum (AMF) to share knowledge and insights with the local leaders. They took part in roundtable discussions alongside Governors, Mayors and other city administrators, examining pathways to sustainability from the angles of inclusive economic growth, digital transformation, resilient cities and climate action, and SDG localisation.

The key takeaways from the discussion on waste problems and solutions with the Governors and Mayors at AMF will be incorporated by the youths into a report that will be released in August. The aim is to propose concrete recommendations that could scale and replicate the successes of youth-led initiatives under the campaign. Data collected for the report will be used to produce a booklet that will be distributed to high school students in order to raise awareness about food and plastic waste as well as present important tips for reducing it.

Waste generation rates in South-East Asia are on the rise, along with rapid population and urbanisation growth. According to the World Bank, over 31 million tonnes of plastic waste are generated every year in 6 of the 10 ASEAN Member States alone, while the UNEP Food Waste.

Index 2021 estimated that the region’s average annual household food waste per person is 82 kg.

Stressing that the EU and ASEAN face similar urbanisation issues including waste-management related challenges, H.E. Mr Igor Driesmans, EU Ambassador to ASEAN, said youth must be part of the policy and decision-making process for sustainable development. ‘A resilient, inclusive and sustainable future starts with youth,’ he said. ‘Their participation is key, and the EU is committed to engage, empower, and connect young people, both in Europe and across ASEAN.’

The regional campaign supports the Youth Action Plan of the EU External Action for 2022-2027, an operational roadmap for engaging and empowering youth in sustainable development, equality and peace, which is in perfect alignment with this year’s AMF theme, ‘Catalysing Regional Growth through Sustainable Development in ASEAN Cities’. Mac Edsel Florendo, a campaign representative from the Philippines and co-founder of Food Rescue ASEAN, said, ‘The issue of reducing waste – and food waste in particular – is close to my heart. We need more discussions about food resources being consciously discarded, while they could have been used to feed people who face hunger. It is never too late to start thinking about the way we spend and consume.’

Alouny Senduangdeth, co-founder of Vientiane-based 2nd Hand World – a marketplace for second-hand products and donations – added, ‘Used items that are tossed out carelessly fill up landfills quickly, exerting pressure on the urban environment. Our campaign serves as a platform for youth passionate about waste reduction to come together to call for action.’

Further updates on the campaign can be found at the social media channels and microsite of EU Delegation to ASEAN.

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