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ASEAN SCP Multi-stakeholders Dialogue

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ASEAN SCP Multi-stakeholders Dialogue
SCP and Circular Economy through Sustainable Tourism and Food Waste

Amari Watergate Hotel, 847 Petchaburi Road, Bangkok, Thailand

The world population is currently about 7.6 billion and the United Nations projects the population to reach 8.5 billion in 2030. The demand for energy supply, water resource and food are expected to increase by 50, 40 and 35 percent respectively. These come up with impacts on natural resources by consuming plenty of original resources, discharging pollution from consumption and production processes. In next decades, resource scarcity and pollution are going to be the critical issues for the population across the globe. For current growth of ASEAN, the trend of urbanization, economic growth and industrialization has been rapidly increasing for a decade whereas the patterns of production and consumption show unsustainable direction across the region. Rising resource use and amount of waste are serious challenges. Resource efficiency in terms of using material, water and energy is being a critical issue to be addressed particularly improvement of production processes and changing the consumption patterns and lifestyles towards more responsible ones. to that end, it is necessary to change the whole system from development of technology and innovation to institutional structure, society organization, finance methods and policies leading to moving towards a more circular economy, which requires in-depth transformative changes throughout value chains from product design to new business model, from new methods of turning waste into new resource to new patterns of behavioral changes. In this context, two sectors deserve particular attention, among other priorities, to improve sustainability in the region: sustainable tourism and food waste management. Most ASEAN countries benefit from a large number of tourists visiting the region, generating economic growth and providing substantial income. However, it is easy to notice that in most countries resources have not been managed efficiently, with food waste being an emerging issue in the region which requires adequate policy, business and consumers response to manage and mitigate the expected negative long-term impacts.

For moving towards a more sustainability pattern, circular economy is necessary to deliver the resource efficiency strategy for countries. Valuable materials have been heavily used in production and consumption processes to improve the economic growth mainly with a linear model – the pattern of take-make-consume and dispose process due to apparent abundant resources, available in places, easy to use and cheap to dispose. The current situation presents a clear and concise view of resource scarcity, impacts on environment and health and losses of competitiveness from higher cost of imported resources both primary raw materials and recycled materials. Adopting a SCP approach, notably through application of circular economy pattern will improve the added value of products in the system and their reuse, while reducing and in some cases eliminating waste. The industrial sector improves resource productivity throughout the production process and the value chains reduces material inputs. In addition, overproduction and high level of resource consumption results in environmental impacts, damaging most ecosystems and depleting resources substantially. Sustainable consumption and production patterns are the only alternative solutions to help promote and maintain economic growth while substantially increasing resource and energy efficiency, and reducing environmental impacts. 

In 2018, about 129 million tourists went to ASEAN member states. The most famous tourist destinations are Phuket (Thailand), Bali (Indonesia) and Boracay (Philippines), clearly already negatively impacted by over-crowding and pollution from tourists’ activities and services. Although tourism could stimulate revenue of the countries, it comes with serious environmental and social impacts, many of those being linked to construction of tourism facilities such as roads, airports, resorts, hotels, restaurants, shops, restrooms, parking areas and golf course. The negative impacts of tourism could deteriorate natural resources such as landscape, sensitive and protected areas, water resources, pressure on local resources and deforestation and generate pollution such as sewage, solid waste, air and noise pollution. Sustainable tourism is one of the strategies helped nations to address tourism industry by building capacity through creating adequate infrastructure, eliminating impediment and enhancing socio-cultural aspects in a country or the ASEAN community. Forms of sustainable tourism and service could pave the way for next generation of growth to rise economic status, improve local resident well-being in cities and protect and value locally attractive resources for society.

In terms of food and products for consumption, most activities are related to agriculture sector which is the biggest user of water worldwide approximately 70% of water resources for human use. Food loss and wastes amount for 1/3 of all food produced and consumed, approximately 1.3 billion tons across the globe. In Southeast Asia, food loss is found 120-170 kg/capita/year accounting for 26 – 36 percent of the total per capita production of edible parts of food for human consumption approximately 460 kg/year. Food waste is 6 – 11 kg/capita/year. Major parts of food waste are fruits and vegetable about 66% occurred between production and consumption composed of roots and tubers (49%) and fish and seafood (40%). Food waste during consumption stage is quite less than during production and distribution stages, however, with the generally wasteful growing middle-class consumption habits, food waste is expected to quickly increase. For food waste, it is a new issue in the region to respond for the long-term impacts properly because most countries in ASEAN located close to the equator which has warm temperature and long rainy season suitable for cultivation and livestock resulting in sufficiency of agricultural production. The countries generally do not give due attention to food waste in terms of long processes and high impacts of agricultural and industrial stages including consumption or from farm to table.

From these reasons, Thailand, being the chair of ASEAN community in 2019, is keen, in collaboration with the SWITCH-Asia SCP Facility funded by the EU, to further promote and increasing resources efficiency while reducing and preventing pollution from economic growth of countries in the region. To that end, The Ministry of Natural resources and Environment of Thailand and the Thai-SCP Networks together with the SWITCH-Asia SCP Facility are going to organize the ASEAN SCP Multi-stakeholders Dialogue with focus on: SCP and Circular Economy through Sustainable Tourism and Food Waste. In the dialogue, Ministry of Natural resources and Environment will invite experts from several countries to contribute to an interactive dialogue and share good practices on the related issues to share knowledge and experiences. The conference is expected to attract approximately 100 participants representing policy makers, experts and relevant key stakeholders for exchanging experiences, discussing lessons learned and suggesting policy direction for Thailand and ASEAN community with the aim to further strengthening national and regional cooperation on the related issues as well as needed implementation capacity towards circular economy and SCP.