Posted inStory / Fiji

Tackling Plastic Pollution And Marine Oil Spills In The Pacific – A Q&A With Mr Anthony Talouli, Pollution Adviser

The following is part of a Q & A series on SPREP staff. In this series, we will be introducing you to members of our SPREP team, giving you the chance to learn more about what we do.

Mr Anthony Sumasafu Talouli is the Pollution Adviser at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). He is part of the Waste Management and Pollution Control programme. Mr Talouli works with our Members to address marine oil and hazardous noxious substances spills, as well as plastic pollution.

Q: How do you work with our Members to address these environmental issues?

A: The Pollution Adviser role is the lead for SPREP as the custodian of the custodian of the Pacific Regional Marine Spill Contingency Plan 2019 (PACPLAN 2019)  which is a document that provides the framework for cooperative responses to major marine spills in the Pacific islands region, including broad aims and objectives, underlying spill response philosophies and priorities, roles and responsibilities of relevant organisations, regional and international linkages and mechanisms for accessing regional and international assistance.  This lead role specifically provides assistance to countries in implementing their PACPLAN obligations through preparedness, prevention and response initiatives.

The Pollution Adviser role is also the lead for SPREP as the custodian of the Pacific Marine Litter Action Plan (PMLAP) 2018-2025 which is a document that provides the framework for addressing the transboundary issue of plastic pollution. The Pollution Advisor also implements and coordinates the activities of the PMLAP work programme and budget.

Q: What are your three biggest achievements with SPREP for our Members?

A: There are many, but if I did have to choose it would be the he endorsement of the PACPLAN 2019 and development of the Oil Spill Response Limited Membership for our Pacific islands.  I was also part of the ‘Greening of the Games’ of the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games which had a huge impact.  In 2018 we also signed the Moana Taka Partnership with Swire Shipping to export non-commercial waste from our Pacific islands for recycling or disposal and I’d also have to say that the endorsement of the Pacific Regional Reception Facilities Plan  2015 which is a world first is pretty high up on the list of achievements.  All of these have a positive impact for our Pacific islands.

Q: What are one or two of your highlights from working at SPREP?

A: Apart from the achievements above it is really fantastic to see the Pacific taking a leadership role on climate and ocean related issues. Particularly in the UNFCC negotiations and leadership in SDG14.  

Q: Where have you seen your work make a positive difference?

A: In many areas but particularly recently in Ocean leadership through addressing plastic pollution where we have seen 52% of our Pacific islands implementing policies to ban single-use plastic and polystyrene.  This is really awesome work and leadership from our Pacific.

Q: What words of advice do you have for people to make our environment a better one?

A: We are all in this together. We can all make a difference in our own way through circular economy principles and the 3 Rs (Reduce Reuse Recycle) + Refuse. For my Pacific People we know what good environmental practices are. We don’t need outsiders to tell us what to do. We can choose to reduce by using locally made products. We can choose to reuse by composting organic waste. We can choose to recycle non-compostable waste by supporting local recyclers of containers such as PET bottles and Aluminium cans. We can choose to support and use renewable energy solutions either through solar, wind, bio-gas. We can choose to support the elimination of chemical substances in agriculture and use organically grown plants and animals.


Q: What words of advice do you have for people that would like to work at SPREP?

A: It is a fantastic place to work with good professional people with integrity and values. We truly practice good work-life balance at SPREP.

My advice for young professional Pacific islanders is to get as much experience in both public and private sector before thinking of working at SPREP. Don’t come to SPREP too early in your career. When you come to SPREP you will be providing our People with environmental sound management advice.

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