The Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) has completed its first virtual training on plastic waste reduction with the Tourism Authority of Kiribati. The initiative is part of a joint CROP programme on capacity building for small island states, between Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and SPTO. The workshop was delivered via pre-recorded instructional videos and live interactive sessions from 14th – 18th December.

Honourable Tekeeua Tarati, Minister of Information Communication Transport & Tourism Development of Kiribati in his opening remarks stated that “this training will assist our sustainable development efforts in many ways and will no doubt make positive contributions to increasing in community livelihood, engagement and stakeholder awareness in relation to plastic waste management.”

The plastic waste reduction training centered on the repurposing of used plastic bottles to create jewelry and other artefacts and was conducted by SPTO creative consultant and prominent Fiji Artist, Mr Warwick Marlow, who acknowledged the need to integrate waste reduction mechanisms into people’s everyday lives.

 “Generally speaking, people are aware of what needs to be done with regards to ocean plastic but they don’t have a clear pathway to become a part of the process, with this training I hope to educate people on how something as simple as a plastic bottle can earn them a few dollars while also helping the environment”, he said.

Complementing his sentiments Ms. Tasha Siaosi, from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, stated that “here in the Pacific the impacts of climate change continue to be a very real threat to our people but this is particularly more so for our core atoll nations like Kiribati. With that in mind, our Secretary General, through her leadership and support of other CROP agencies, has enabled funding for this programme which we hope will reach and empower many other small island states member countries”

Similar pilot projects were carried out in both Fiji and Tuvalu in 2019, based on the concept of waste reduction in the tourism sector using the circular economy approach. SPTO CEO, Christopher Cocker, noted the importance of this initiative in educating and empowering local communities.

“Through the plastics repurposing initiative SPTO has been able to engage with very important segments of local communities in participating countries. These communities are not only contributing to waste reduction but are also empowered with new skills to help improve Pacific livelihoods. Hence, we are walking the talk in terms of enabling the   circular economy approach at the grass roots level,” he said.

The i-Kiribati participants in last week’s programme included former tourism workers, persons with disabilities, single mothers and members of the LGBTQ community. Plans are underway for the implementation of similar programmes in the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru and Timor Leste in 2021.

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