Tonga and Pacific move on waste management initiatives

Regional country representatives and facilitators/resource people at the Nadi meeting this week. Photo: SUPPLIED

Nadi, Fiji, 7/02/2020: The Pacific–European Union Waste Management Programme (PacWastePlus) is working with identified Pacific countries to reduce the production of, and improve the management of, hazardous wastes (specifically asbestos, E-waste and healthcare waste), solid wastes (specifically recyclables, organic waste, disaster waste and bulky waste) and water impacted by solid waste.

This was discussed again this week in Nadi, Fiji.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in partnership with the European Union (EU), held the Pacific–European Union Waste Management Programme (PacWastePlus) Steering Committee Meeting in Nadi, Fiji from 10 to 12 February 2020, to discuss progress development of country investment projects that support positive waste management and environmental outcomes for governments, businesses, community groups and social enterprises.

The regional meeting of country representatives was to engender meaningful engagement between participating countries, funding and implementation agencies and the PacWastePlus programme management unit to provide strategic direction for implementation of country activities. 

Ms. Mafile’o Masi, Chief Environmentalist and Head of Waste Management and Pollution Control Division of the Department of Environment represented the Government of Tonga to the meeting.

Representatives from Cook Islands, Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Republic of Marshall Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu attended the meeting to discuss the work to be delivered and to confirm project activities based on country priorities as this important work is implemented throughout the pacific region with activities that are tailored to address the specific needs of each country based on their identified priorities.

With a total investment of up to USD$300,000 per country, and provision of additional technical resources, Tonga is planning on utilising the investment by reducing the health risks to the local community through proper management of asbestos.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, which is mostly used in Tonga as construction materials.  When old and damaged, asbestos releases fibres, which can cause cancer and other health related problems if inhaled or ingested. 

With the impact of waste and pollution on sustainable development in the Pacific countries taking its toll on the health of communities, degrading natural ecosystems, threatening food security, impeding resilience to climate change and adversely impacting on social and economic development, the PacWastePlus programme intends to generate improved economic, social, health and environmental benefits by enhancing existing activities and building capacity and sustainability into waste management practices.  

The programme has commenced work by assisting countries to improve data collection to inform decision making, strengthen legislative and policy frameworks, incentivise public and private partnerships in the waste sector, build the capacity of governments, industry and the community to reduce waste generation, and effectively manage wastes that are generated.

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