The World Bank offered Thursday to support the Philippines' efforts to tackle its massive problem with plastic pollution, including the option of tapping a new trust fund that supports healthy and productive oceans.
Agata Pawlowska, World Bank portfolio manager, told a forum in Manila that PROBLUE, the multi-donor trust fund launched last year with a focus on marine litter, could prove useful to the Philippines, which has been singled out as a major contributor of plastic pollution in the ocean.
"Some of the early commitments will be for East Asia," Pawlowska said, adding that the World Bank has established marine plastics as a priority for its financial support in the region.
"At the national level, we are already working with several national governments and the private sector in Southeast Asia to support the development and implementation of policies and regulations, to increase knowledge on the quantities of plastic waste and pollution hotspots, to develop plastic policies and roadmaps, and to finance critical investments," he said.
A 2015 report by U.S. based environmental group Ocean Conservancy and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment tagged the Philippines as the third largest ocean polluter of plastics, contributing 2.7 million tons annually.
Joel Palma, chief executive officer of the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF)-Philippines, said the country's problem of plastic pollution should be addressed sooner than later as the amount is projected to almost double by 2025.
"The goal is not to stop all plastic but rather to stop the flow of plastics, not just in the ocean, but to the ecosystems, because we've seen plastic also in agricultural areas, in rivers and in different ecosystems," Palma said during the same forum.