Korea vows sustained support to PH efforts vs. marine litter

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

April 19, 2024, 1:57 pm

<p><em>(File photo)</em></p>

(File photo)

MANILA – South Korea vowed to sustain its support to the Philippines’ ongoing efforts to combat marine litter and protect the marine environment. 

The Korean Embassy reaffirmed this commitment during a clean-up drive along Manila Bay at the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park (LPPWP) on Friday, an activity led by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Communities Organized for Resource Allocation (CORA).

“This year is the 75th year of Philippines-Korea diplomatic relations, and the Korean government aims to continue supporting the efforts of the Philippine government in marine environmental conservation and rehabilitation,” Korean Embassy Counsellor Kwon Soon Hyun said. 

KOICA highlighted the urgent need to address marine plastic pollution, citing it as one of the most pressing global environmental challenges.

In his speech, KOICA Country Director Kim Eunsub said the agency has been intensifying its activities towards environmental protection as the organization also marks its 30th year in the country.

“Each piece of litter we collected represents a step towards cleaner waters and healthier ecosystems. KOICA is committed to supporting the country’s environmental efforts and has intensified its activities this year in celebration of the 30th anniversary of KOICA in the Philippines,” he said.

The clean-up activity was held ahead of the Earth Day celebration and gathered more than 60 representatives from KOICA, USAID, and PhilKOFA.

Citing 2023 data, the Korean Embassy said the Philippines topped the list of global plastic polluters, accounting for 36 percent or more than 350,000 tons of ocean plastic waste annually.

The latest findings from the 2023 Rapid Assessment Standing Stock Survey carried out by CORA and KOICA at the LPPWP also revealed that food wrappers and sachets constitute the predominant type of marine litter, comprising 32.9 percent of the total waste collected.

“This alarming statistic is closely followed by plastic bottles, accounting for 15.3 percent of the accumulated waste,” it said.

“This stressed the need for the country to improve solid waste management to prevent garbage that usually ends up in rivers and oceans,” it added.

READ: SoKor provides marine litter-collecting ship to PH

KOICA and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) implemented a five-year, USD8.2 million “Enhancement of Marine Litter Management in Manila Bay” (EMLM) Project with backing from USAID.

The project aims to support local efforts in addressing the marine pollution crisis in the country by operating a clean-up vessel in Manila Bay, promoting awareness and driving behavioral changes, and implementing sustainable solutions for waste management.

Under the EMLM Project, CORA, together with KOICA, Korea Marine Environment Management Corporation (KOEM) and Our Sea of East Asia Network (OSEAN), also conducts citizen science activities through regular marine litter monitoring, monthly coastal clean-ups, and social behavior change campaigns to address marine litter in Manila Bay through the My OSEAN Mission program.

In the last three months, OSEAN Mission cleanups have collected over 819 kilograms of marine litter, most of which are plastic-based materials.

“By training our volunteers as citizen scientists, CORA’s coastal clean-ups become a powerful tool in collecting valuable data that is shared with scientists, lawmakers, and innovators to create policies, technologies, and systems to help solve the plastic pollution crisis,” CORA Founder and Executive Director Antoinette Taus said. (PNA)