Innovation Challenge launched to tackle plastic pollution in ASEAN

Thursday, 2020-06-25 11:24:30
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General view of the EPPIC launching ceremony. (Photo: UNDP in Vietnam)
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NDO – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), together with the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), on June 24 launched an ASEAN-wide innovation challenge to deal with plastic waste in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay and Thailand’s Koh Samui (Samui Island) in 2020, followed by Indonesia and the Philippines in 2021.

Many innovative ideas to tackle marine plastic pollution are already being developed, but they often lack support or struggle to find ways to scale up. The newly launched “Ending Plastic Pollution Innovation Challenge” (EPPIC), funded by Norad, provides an exciting opportunity for innovators to receive seed funding and incubation training to help them maximise their chances of success.

The EPPIC competition welcomes all innovators from ASEAN, including businesses, non-profit organisations, academic organisations, public institutions, and individuals, to share their bright ideas for solving the issue of plastic waste in Ha Long Bay or Koh Samui.

Innovators who are interested can submit their applications on the EPPIC website between June 25 and August 6. The top 10 to 15 finalists will be announced on August 16 and will be enrolled for a three-month incubation training programme delivered by UNDP Impact Aim, an accelerator intended to amplify the positive impact of local start-ups.

At the end of the training course, the finalists will present their solutions during the EPPIC Final Pitching Competition, and two to four of them will be selected by the judges as the overall winners of EPPIC 2020. Each of the winners will receive up to USD$18,000 in equity-free seed funding, as well as an additional nine-month impact acceleration programme and opportunities to network with impact investing firms and other key development players in the ASEAN region.

Caitlin Wiesen, Resident Representative of UNDP in Vietnam, speak at the event.

The judges of the 2020 Innovation Challenge comprise of Kari Synnøve Johansen (Norad), Sara Wingstrand (Ellen MacArthur Foundation), Regula Schegg (Circulate Capital), Giulio Quaggiotto (UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Innovation Centre), Supinya Srithongkul (Koh Samui), Nguyen Le Tuan (Vietnam Administration of Seas and Islands) and a representative from Ha Long Bay.

Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the northern province of Quang Ninh, is one of Vietnam’s most popular travel destinations, receiving 14 million visitors in 2019. Ha Long Bay is home to a large fish-farming industry with about 20,600 fish-ponds and 9,600 fish cages, meaning that equipment such as buoys and fishing nets are among the most common plastic items that are lost or discarded into the environment.

Meanwhile, Koh Samui (Samui Island) is the largest island in an archipelago located off the north-eastern coast of Surat Thani Province in Thailand. This very famous tourist destination welcomed more than 2.5 million visitors in 2017 but possesses limited waste management systems to manage the approximate 10,800 tonnes of plastic waste that are generated there annually, much of which is food packaging from the nearly 2,000 restaurants and convenience stores that cater to visitors.