The Ministry of Environment is set to commence the ASEAN-Norway collaboration aimed at enhancing foundational skills to reduce plastic pollution in the bloc through the ASEANO2 project, in line with the ministry’s Circular Strategy.

The announcement came during a meeting chaired by ministry secretary of state San Vanty in Siem Reap province, which included Norwegian ambassador Kjell Tormod Pettersen and relevant partner organisations, as detailed in a March 4 ministry social media post.

Vanty stated that the meeting’s objective was to initiate ASEANO2, an initiative which seeks to bolster capabilities to reduce plastic pollution in the bloc.

He said Cambodia and Vietnam have been selected as the locations for the project’s implementation.

“Our commencement of the [collaboration], focused on reducing plastic pollution in ASEAN, aligns with the ministry’s Circular Strategy on Environment 2023-28,” he added.

He referenced the country’s success in diminishing plastic usage through campaigns like “Today I Do Not Use Plastic” and “River Cleanup” to lower water pollution levels and protect public health.

Pettersen lauded the ministry’s initiatives, particularly celebrating the success of the anti-plastic effort. He noted its important role in reducing pollution in both Cambodia and the broader region.

“The pervasive impact of plastics has significantly polluted the global environment, both on land and in water. Plastic waste takes many years to decompose, as it is not readily biodegradable,” he added.

The ambassador acknowledged that global environmental issues have led to climate change and regional environmental pollution, which has caused some countries to bear the brunt of its effects.

Siem Reap deputy governor Yun Linne highlighted the province’s richness in natural resources and cultural heritage, including numerous temples and the largest lake in Southeast Asia.

He added that the ecological conditions of Tonle Sap Lake are crucial for maintaining aesthetics and the environment, stimulating socio-economic development and enhancing the long-term livelihoods of local communities.