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The Pacific Tourism Waste Action Initiative, a resounding success in the Small Island States

A series of virtual plastics repurposing workshops, under the Pacific Tourism Waste Action Initiative (PTWAI) component of the Small Island States (SIS) Attachment Programme, have concluded with the completion of the final workshop for the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) on 29th April.

The PTWAI is a collaborative effort between the Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) and Fiji based artisan, Mr. Warwick Marlow. The initiative promotes strong community engagement in repurposing plastic waste to maintain cleaner communities and provide participants with alternative income streams.

In response to travel restrictions imposed by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the workshops were repackaged and delivered virtually, via a series of instructional videos and live interactive sessions led by Mr. Marlow. Successfully delivered in Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru and FSM, the initiative has been well received and has even attracted international recognition through the 2020 Creative Tourism Awards. Reflecting on the achievements of the PTWAI, Mr. Marlow emphasized the importance of collaborative, multi-sectoral approaches, to key regional issues like waste management.

“The Plastics Repurposing workshops for Micronesia have been one of the highlights of my 45 year career in the creative industries in the Pacific. I’m so honored and humbled to be a part of this initiative and I congratulate SPTO and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat for their strategic and inclusive approach to Sustainable Tourism Development in the Pacific”, he said.

The FSM workshop benefitted 24 participants, including representatives from waste management services, girl scouts groups, the indigenous women’s council and children with special needs. In opening the workshop, the Honorable First Lady of FSM, Ms. Patricia Edwin, was emphatic in her call to address plastic pollution in the Pacific. “This training provides a unique opportunity for tourism to address plastic pollution. Every year around 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans and for the Pacific that is very alarming as our region is 98% water and 2% land”, she said.

Speaking at the closing of the workshop SPTO CEO, Christopher Cocker, noted with admiration, the creativity displayed by the participants from FSM and the lessons learned from the virtual workshops. “The variety of products is a great reflection of the creativity of people from FSM. COVID-19 forced us to transition to virtual trainings and although we had our reservations in the beginning we now know that it can be done not only in the SIS but throughout the region”, he said.

The second component of the SIS Attachment Programme, will centre on a partnership between SPTO and Rosie Academy, whereby a series of virtual training programmes will be delivered to 11 Small Island States, to address key tourism components linked to post pandemic tourism.

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