From 8-13 September 2019, our former intern Xia Menghu under the supervision of Ms Elaine Tan the Executive Director of ASEAN Foundation participated ASEAN Plus Three Youth Environment Forum (AYEF) 2019 “Clean up Our Sea, Change Our Future” in Phuket, Thailand.
The emergence of marine debris is one of critical transboundary pollutions as its massive impacts at global scale. It is estimated that 8 million tons of plastic debris have been releasing into the ocean annually. Among those states which produced most, the states in this region such as China, Indonesia, Philippine, Vietnam and Thailand are on the top list. On 22 June 2019, ASEAN leaders signed the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in ASEAN Region and determined to implement the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular to achieve Sustainable Development Goal: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
The ASEAN Plus Three (APT) cooperation process began in December 1997 with the convening of an Informal Summit among the Leaders of ASEAN and China, Japan and the ROK at the sidelines of the 2nd ASEAN Informal Summit in Malaysia. Since then ASEAN has been cooperating with China, Japan and Korea in various areas and the mutual trust between ASEAN and Plus Three states improved greatly. On 15 November 2018, Japan Prime Minister Abe made a proposal for the ASEAN+3 Marine Plastics Debris Cooperative Action Initiative to reduce plastics in the oceans at the ASEAN+3 Summit. There are three main goals listed in the Initiative: 1) Improve management of plastic waste by environmentally sound waste management and “3R” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). 2) Promote awareness, research and education on marine plastic debris. 3) Strengthen regional and international cooperation.
This ASEAN+3 Youth Environment Forum has brought officials from Thailand government, environmental professionals from ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, professors from Thailand and Japan as well as around 100 youths delegates from ASEAN Plus Three states in Phuket, Thailand to discuss the ways of dealing with marine debris and raising awareness among youths. The forum showed the will and determination of ASEAN Plus Three states leaders of strengthening cooperation on marine debris.
Xia Menghu who completed his master in International Master of ASEAN Studies currently is working as a project manager in Asia-Europe Institute, University of Malaya. He has been actively involving in ASEAN studies and activities especially relation between China and ASEAN. He was selected by Ministry of Ecology and Environment of the People's Republic of China to participate in this international forum. As one of the five Chinese Delegates, he has worked closely with his Chinese Delegates as well as teammates (Blue Ocean team). He shared his knowledge regarding ASEAN and marine debris at this forum. In his presentation and discussion sessions with fellows from ASEAN Plus Three states, he strengthened important role of youths, China’s responsibility towards marine debris and significance of international cooperation.
We are glad to see our former intern Xia Menghu who is still actively involved in activities relevant to ASEAN.