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IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC)

Advancing knowledge and cooperation for a healthy ocean and prosperous society

Stem the Tide of Asia’s Riverine Plastic Emission into the Ocean

In Sanya, a southern coastal city in China, more than forty experts and representatives from eleven maritime countries in the Asia-Pacific region gathered at the international workshop on 20-22 November 2023 to kick-off the UN Ocean Decade Action – UN22: “Stem the Tide of Asia’s Riverine Plastic Emission into the Ocean”.

Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues. Rivers are recognized as a major transport pathway of land-based plastic waste into the ocean, and it is said that rivers in the Asia-Pacific region are accounted for more than half of the globe plastic emission. The UN Ocean Decade Action – UN22 that the IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) initiated, aims to develop a better understanding of Asia’s riverine plastic waste into the ocean, and to catalyze waste management, infrastructure, technological and behavioral solutions  with a view to arresting worsening riverine plastic pollution.


The three-day workshop was jointly organized with the East China Normal University (ECNU), a leading institution in plastic research and also the host of the Regional Training and Research Center on Marine Plastic Debris. This event marked a significant step forward in developing joint actions addressing riverine plastic emission in the region. The first day initiated with insightful presentations, focusing on the international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, science advance and knowledge gaps, innovations and technologies, and sharing of China’s policy and countermeasures in combating plastic pollution, and its good practices in citizen science, waste management and business/private sector engagement in plastic recycling.

The second day’ session was designed to learn each country’s overall status of plastic pollution, policy and management movement, research and monitoring effort, good practice in waste management, plastic recycling and engagement of business sectors. At the third-day’s brainstorming session, all participants synthesized the learnings,  identified priority interests and activities, and expressed determination to co-develop and co-implement the UN Decade Action over the years and beyond.


In addition to more than ten pilot rivers to be studied, the kickoff workshop concluded with the establishment of two task forces deliberating on situation analysis of pilot rivers and harmonization of sampling methodology, respectively.


Looking ahead, the kickoff workshop set a strategic direction for the UN 22’s future development, aiming to strengthen the commitment to combating riverine plastic emission into our ocean through enhanced collaborative efforts. This is expected to contribute significantly to the broader goal of ocean sustainability.



For further information about the UN Decade Action – UN22, please refer to (

For more background on the workshop, please find its Concept Note here.