In January 2020 Japan’s Ministry of the Environment and Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment joined to kick-off the Thailand-Japan Environmental Solutions Week. The event brought together professionals from the private sector to showcase innovative environmental research working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The event took place from January 14-16, 2020 at the Barkeley Hotel Pratunam in Bangkok.

The Geoinformatics Center’s Associate Director, Dr. Kavinda Gunasekara, participated in a parallel session titled Marine Plastic Debris and Land-based Waste Management. The session was presided over by H.E. Ms. Yukari Sato, Japan’s State Minister of the Environment. 

Dr. Gunasekara delivered a presentation on GIC’s current progress towards regionally modeling plastic leakage in the Mekong River Basin. This work is taking place under the UN Environment Program’s (UNEP) Countermeasure project.

Thus far GIC has identified five sites for data collection along major tributaries of the Mekong River in Thailand, Lao, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Community cleanup and data collection events have already taken place at the two Thailand sites located in Chiang Rai and Ubon Rachathani. UAV were utilized to record high-resolution imagery of the plastic accumulated at the sites. GIC’s collaboration with Pirika Inc (Japan) will lead to the development of machine learning algorithms which identify plastic waste from UAV imagery.