Remarks by Deputy Chief of Mission John Law, Grant Signing Ceremony for USAID’s Municipal Waste Recycling Program

Thursday, July 11, 2019

[As Prepared]

[Greetings]

I am pleased to join you all this morning as we mark the beginning of new partnerships that will help reduce plastic pollution in the Philippines’ marine environment. I would like to thank our friends from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for hosting this very special event. The U.S. government is a committed partner with the Philippine government in its efforts to protect the country's rich marine ecosystems and resources.

I would like to take a moment to congratulate the Philippine government for recently adopting the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in the ASEAN Region. This will strengthen efforts to promote recycling and reduce ocean plastic pollution.

The U.S. government recognizes plastic pollution as a critical issue. In 2018, President Trump signed the “Save Our Seas Act of 2018,” which encourages U.S. agencies to work with partner countries, including the Philippines, to address land- and sea-based pollution and improve waste management.

Combatting sea-based pollution is a shared priority for all of us. Every year, eight million tons of plastic waste is discarded into the world’s oceans, eventually making its way into the human food supply, particularly through fish products.

The amount of plastic pollution flowing into the ocean is increasing at alarming rates, creating an urgent challenge for the world’s environment and economy. While the challenge of ocean plastics is global, many of the solutions need to be local.

Effective recycling and waste management systems rely on a combination of community-led awareness raising and education campaigns, private sector innovations and solutions, and, of course, a local government's ability to collect and manage waste. Solving the problem of ocean plastics requires strong local systems.

Local solutions are at the core of our work on this issue. The United States believes that true progress comes when local partners take the lead in coming up with solutions to local development challenges.

The U.S. government, through the United States Agency for International Development’s Municipal Waste Recycling Program, is funding 30 different locally-led marine debris projects in four countries: the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Since the program began in 2017 here in the Philippines, we have awarded five grants to non-governmental organizations to implement projects in Manila, Puerto Princesa, and Bacolod City.

Today, we will begin partnerships with the EcoWaste Coalition, and the Mother Earth Foundation. The two new grants we will sign total 20 million pesos ($380,000), bringing total U.S. government assistance through the Municipal Waste Recycling Program to close to 57 million pesos ($1.1 million) in the Philippines.

The new grantees will promote and expand community-based recycling programs, improve solid waste management, and conduct research on plastic. I am happy to note that three of these initiatives support the rehabilitation of historic Manila Bay, which I understand is priority for President Duterte. These partnerships are critical to protecting urban coastal areas that rely on tourism and fisheries sectors. We are proud to work together with the Philippines in finding innovative solutions to keeping plastic waste out of our oceans.

We look forward to hearing about the accomplishments of these new partnerships over the next two years. We thank you for your partnership as we continue to work toward our mutual goals of reducing plastic pollution and promoting a healthy ocean.

Maraming salamat po!

Issuing Country 

Last updated: September 09, 2019

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