A partnership between the Government of Samoa, the Samoa Outrigger Canoe Association (SOCA) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) to make the International Va’a Federation World Distance Championship (IVF WDC) Regatta green and plastic-free was announced in early August.

SPREP through the Australian Government-funded, Pacific Ocean Litter Project (POLP) will provide AUD37,000 (US$24,244) funding support to SOCA in making WDC 2023 single-use plastic free.

This includes building public education and awareness of plastic pollution and the single-use plastic issue in Samoa as part of the highly visible event. POLP will also provide reusable water bottles and water filling stations under the banner of greening the games.

“On behalf of the government of Samoa and SOCA I would like to express our sincere gratitude to SPREP and specifically to the Pacific Ocean Litter Project for making these the green games,” said Samoa’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster.

“This is an extension of our combined work in the protection of our ocean which is the greatest recipient of all land-based pollution and the largest dumping ground for plastic pollution. This significantly affects our marine life and livelihoods.

“From a tourism standpoint, the litter associated with single-use plastic affects our beaches and the growth of our corals. The support for this event provides a platform that enables people to see our efforts in promoting sustainable tourism”.

The Director General of SPREP, Sefanaia Nawadra said the Secretariat is honoured to be able to support the greening of the games through the POLP project.

“The effort builds on what we did in 2019 through the partnership between the government and other partners in delivering the first ever green Pacific Games,” said Nawadra.

“That effort was outstanding and especially so because Samoa stepped in last minute to host the games. Solomon Islands who will host the games this year was inspired by this and the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands had asked for our support to make the games green this year as well. I’m glad to say that through the Pacific Ocean Litter Project and other projects and programmes at SPREP, we are assisting Solomon Islands in achieving that goal. We are glad of the leadership shown by Samoa and that continues with this competition.”

SOCA will place recycling cages and bins across its venues to promote good waste management practices and prevent leakage.

Local businesses and vendors contracted are to comply with the event’s plastic-free objective and only alternative take-away food and beverage containers and related products will be used.

“The ocean is our home. As paddlers, we spend a lot of time in our ocean and we are proud that through this initiative we are taking care of our home, protecting our islands and protecting it for future generations,” said the Event Director, Ulugia Jay Schuster.

The IVF WDC Regatta will be held in Apia from 10-19 August 2023.

This story was written by Zhiyad Khan, originally published at SPREP on 04 August 2023.

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