Vol. 131 No. 2
Eas congress 2006
On Wednesday, participants at the East Asian Seas (EAS) Congress convened in plenary to hear a keynote presentation, followed by thematic workshops on, inter alia: securing the oceans; safer shipping and cleaner oceans; certifying sustainability; and local government financing for water, sewage and sanitation. Two special seminars focusing on ecosystem-based management and on coastal and ocean governance were held in the afternoon. In the evening, delegates attended the PEMSEA Recognition and Awards Ceremony to honor contributions by individuals and organizations to sustainable development in the EAS region.
Magda Lovei, the World Bank, described coastal areas as “engines of wealth,” but cautioned that growing environmental degradation is having significant economic costs. She outlined the World Bank’s Framework Strategy for East Asian Partnerships, highlighting tools such as policy and institutional support for sustainable marine, coastal and watershed management, loans, and policy dialogue on water utility reform and environmental regulation. She noted that the East Asian Partnership Investment Fund for Pollution Reduction supports innovative approaches to pollution control.
Lovei advocated addressing existing regional challenges, particularly: perverse incentives such as subsidies that promote fishing overcapacity; weak legal and regulatory frameworks for pollution control which give no incentive to apply cleaner techniques; overlapping institutional mandates preventing integrated management; and limited representation of local communities in decision-making. She encouraged progress by: scaling up successful pilot programmes on alternative livelihoods, protected area co-management, and payments for ecological services; integrating environmental considerations into planning; and strengthening regional partnerships.
SECURING THE OCEANS: Regime-building in coastal and ocean governance: Chair Gunnar Kullenberg, former Assistant Director General of UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and former Executive Director of the International Ocean Institute, chaired the session.
David VanderZwaag, Dalhousie University, Canada, gave an overview of regional cooperation in coastal and ocean governance. He noted that regional cooperation is built on both “hard” and “soft” law instruments. He drew attention to jurisdictional fragmentation in the global coverage of regional fisheries management bodies, and overlaps between 18 regional seas programmes and 64 large marine ecosystems (LMEs) identified by NOAA.
VanderZwaag further identified numerous actions needed to improve coastal and ocean governance, including:
Kem Lowry, University of Hawaii, highlighted PEMSEA as a successful example of a network for regional ocean management. He also emphasized: building a shared vision; sustaining awareness; securing organizational and high-level policy support, and commitment among partners; and assessing collaborative network efforts in coastal and ocean governance.
Russell Reichelt, Reef and Rainforest Research Centre, Australia, presented the findings of a survey on education in coastal and ocean governance, noting that 71% of institutions surveyed around the world have reported engagement in education or training in these areas. He noted, however, that e-learning opportunities were limited and several topics, in particular marine protected areas (MPAs) and resource economics, were underrepresented. Reichelt stressed that the purpose of education is to raise awareness of the importance of effective ocean governance, build capacity to implement effective governance, encourage leadership, and promote the idea of “sufficient consensus” for action.
During the ensuing discussion, one participant lamented limited ratifications of MEAs in the East Asian region, while another said that the answer to achieving effective ocean governance lies halfway between “hard” and “soft” law instruments. Drawing attention to the global nature of issues such as trade, security and climate change, one delegate underscored inter-regional coordination and coherence. He also suggested that the prospect of increased wealth generated by the oceans could be an incentive for securing political will.
Terttu Melvasalo, former Programme Coordinator, Helsinki Commission (HELCOM), presented on HELCOM activities aimed at the protection of the Baltic Sea environment from all sources of pollution. She highlighted achievements of HELCOM, including: adopting some 200 recommendations for improving the state of the Baltic Sea environment; achieving lower discharges of organic pollutants, organo-halogen compounds and nutrients; reduction in atmospheric nitrogen deposition; enactment of national legislation and regulations; joint monitoring; recovery of seal and white-tailed eagle populations; measures taken to eliminate all illegal discharges by ships; and development and implementation of the Baltic Sea Action Plan.
Stella Regina Bernad, PEMSEA, highlighted challenges for ocean and coastal governance in the EAS region, notably the lack of a regional legal regime. She described PEMSEA’s evolution from a pollution-focused regional programme to a region-wide partnership arrangement addressing the broader sustainable development agenda in marine and coastal areas. She highlighted that during consultations on the SDS-SEA, PEMSEA member countries had stressed that no regional legally-binding agreement was desirable, and that the PEMSEA partnership mechanism for SDS-SEA implementation would be non-binding, flexible, inclusive and supported by voluntary funding.
Arthur Hanson, IISD, presented on ocean governance in the Arctic, noting that the region is grappling with sustainability and security issues, which are exacerbated by climate change. He said that unlike the Antarctic, the Arctic region has no formal regime for ocean management, and that oil and gas development has been the key driver of marine management at the sub-regional level. He highlighted the Arctic Council as a regional institution similar to PEMSEA, and other initiatives such as the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, and the International Polar Year 2007-2008.
Michael O’Toole, UNDP, presented on Benguela Current LME Programme, which is a five-year GEF-funded project involving Angola, Namibia and South Africa. He outlined the main activities of the Programme: sustainable management and utilization of living marine resources; management of impacts of mining and drilling activities on the marine environment; assessment of environmental variability and ecosystem impacts; maintenance of ecosystem health and protection of biological diversity; socioeconomics and governance; and capacity building. O’Toole also highlighted the establishment of the Benguela Current Commission as a formal mechanism for cooperation among member states.
The ensuing discussion focused on the applicability and transferability of PEMSEA’s experience and leadership to other regions. When asked about the relationship between PEMSEA and other programmes in the region such as the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA), Chair Kullenberg said that the relationship is good and there is no overlap. Several speakers also noted civil society involvement and corporate social responsibility in project implementation.
SAFER SHIPPING AND CLEANER OCEANS: Implementation of effective regional arrangements for preparedness and response to marine pollution in East Asia: Richard Johnson, International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation, presented a risk factor assessment of oil spills in the EAS region, highlighting: the large quantity of oil being transported; increasing oil tanker traffic and associated spill risks; and non-tank vessels’ contribution to half of the incidents. He emphasized strengthening the region’s preparedness through effective legal frameworks and contingency plans.
Yang Xinzhai, China Maritime Agency, outlined China’s national response strategy for oil spills, including: the adoption of the National Contingency Plan; the establishment of emergency response centers in coastal and river harbor areas; and measures to establish a domestic mechanism for oil pollution compensation.
Eka Sukmawati, Directorate for Sea and Coast Guard, Indonesia, summarized the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional agreements on preparedness and response to marine pollution, stressing the need for international assistance to developing countries.
Daniel Chan, Oil Spill Response Limited and East Asia Response Limited (OSRL/EARL), noted that the oil industry has adopted a tiered response approach to oil spills, since minor operational spills with limited impact and severity are more likely to happen. He highlighted that cooperation and communication are the key principles of the tiered response approach.
Chris Morris, General Secretary of the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA), described the IMO/IPIECA Global Initiative, which aims to support national and regional implementation of international conventions and regional agreements on marine pollution, preparedness and response, and liability and compensation associated with oil spills. The Initiative also promotes the tiered response concept to ensure an appropriate level of operation response capability.
Chang-Gu Kang, Director, Marine Environmental Emergency Preparedness and Response Regional Activity Centre (MERRAC) of the Northwest Pacific Action Plan (NOWPAP), outlined MERRAC activities to address oil and hazardous and noxious substance (HNS) spills in the NOWPAP region. Underscoring the high risk of spills in the region and the low preparedness and response capabilities of member countries, he noted that NOWPAP member countries are working together to develop a regional HNS contingency plan by expanding the existing NOWPAP Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan.
Alam Syah Mapparessa, Ministry of Environment, Indonesia, summarized the ASEAN Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Project, emphasizing the need to strengthen regional cooperation and improve national capacities.
Pakorn Prasertwong, Marine Department, Thailand, outlined sub-regional partnerships to enhance oil spill preparedness and response in the Gulf of Thailand, highlighting a Joint Statement between Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam to strengthen individual states’ response capabilities to prevent, control and mitigate marine pollution, and promote technical cooperation.
The ensuing discussion focused on: human errors as a spill risk factor; the importance of stakeholder involvement and regional cooperation in oil spill preparedness and response; and compensation measures for damages caused by oil spills.
In the afternoon, Co-Chair Morris opened discussion on workshop recommendations to the Ministerial Forum, emphasizing the need for suggestions for improving regional arrangements for oil spill response, identifying elements that are currently lacking, and determining “deliverable” steps for implementing an effective system. He introduced draft recommendations based on earlier presentations and, following discussion, the workshop agreed on recommendations on, inter alia:
Participants also drafted a number of preambular paragraphs reflecting agreement on, inter alia: the importance of existing regional frameworks for cooperation on oil spill preparedness and response; and the need for maritime administrations and industry groups to coordinate to build and sustain national and regional capacity for oil spill preparedness and response.
The workshop further discussed potential areas for future cooperation among maritime administrations, including: recycling of ships; implementation of IMO conventions; regional arrangements for pollution response; improving access to and transboundary movement of international oil spill equipment and resources; recent developments in claims and compensation for oil spills; and regional arrangements for pollution response in East Asia’s high-risk areas.
The workshop also held a session on HNS preparedness and response. Miguel Palomares, IMO, highlighted the Protocol on Preparedness, Response and Cooperation to Pollution Incidents by HNS as an important framework providing a platform to facilitate international cooperation and assistance and to develop national and regional capacity to prepare for and respond to HNS accidents. Describing the complexity and difficulties faced in HNS preparedness and response compared to oil spills, he said that a different set of skills, expertise and equipment is required due to different chemical and physical properties of chemicals. He noted that IMO provides technical assistance and support to develop the necessary capacity for HNS response at the national and regional levels.
Seong-Gil Kang, NOWPAP MERRAC, outlined NOWPAP experiences on enhancing the regional response capacity to deal with the increasing number of HNS accidents. He highlighted that a national reporting system on HNS and a regional HNS contingency plan are being developed under the MERRAC framework.
Sangjin Lee, Korea Coast Guard, shared the Republic of Korea’s experiences on HNS preparedness and response, emphasizing achievements in: strengthening cooperation among stakeholders; engaging specialized research institutions and industries; and improving response skills through training. Noting the establishment of a chemical accident response information system (CARIS), he illustrated CARIS simulation models for different HNS spill scenarios and appropriate response measures.
Richard Johnson and Freddie Tan, OSRL/EARL, illustrated cases of major HNS accidents, which had occurred both within and outside the region, describing the impacts caused by HNS spills and different response strategies taken to minimize environmental damage.
Edmond Ho, Environmental Protection Department, Hong Kong, discussed Hong Kong’s beach water monitoring programme, including pollution response plans for each beach pinpointing potential land-based pollution sources. He highlighted measures to improve water quality through better legislation enforcement and key elements for effective monitoring and management.
Vilma Cabading, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Philippines, presented on her country’s beach monitoring programme, noting that it includes four steps: sample collection, laboratory analyses, data assessment and disclosure of information. Cabading outlined implementation challenges, including the need to strengthen private sector participation, noting that further collaborative work would help the Department overcome these challenges.
Carrie Dean, Foundation for Environmental Education, Denmark, provided an overview of the Blue Flag Programme, which has created an eco-label for beaches and marinas based on the level of water quality, environmental management, education and information, safety and services. She said the programme aims to incorporate environmental issues into decision-making, and that its success relies on partnerships and stakeholder support.
Chair Kirkman discussed improvements in cleanliness and safety of East Asian beaches through the example of the Blue Flag Programme, highlighting the benefits of an accredited beach. He said the Programme offers an opportunity for NGOs to cooperate with public authorities, and emphasized that effective implementation needs country support.
Wong Poh Poh, National University of Singapore, reflected on opportunities, constraints and operational arrangements for beach certification in Asia. He concluded that providing sewage treatment plants is an effective measure for improving water quality of beaches.
Pradech Phayakvichien, Tourism Authority of Thailand, discussed the Green Leaf Programme, a certification programme for environmental management of hotels, noting that hotels have a significant impact on beaches and water systems. He emphasized that certification programmes are an important tool as they respond to the changing attitudes of tourists as they look for more responsible tourism operators.
Samuel Arle Dan Biller, World Bank, discussed policy options for conservation and sustainable use of beaches. He emphasized that valuation of beaches facilitates priority setting and cost-benefit analysis of remediation and that success is based on an integrated approach involving stakeholders.
In the ensuing discussion, participants listed conclusions and recommendations to be forwarded to the Ministerial Forum, including on: addressing the root causes of beach pollution; improving public information and participation; and building local capacity and awareness.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT FINANCING FOR WATER, SEWAGE AND SANITATION: GPA implementation: National and local government challenges: Chair Anjan Datta, UNEP Coordination Office of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA), spoke on the outcomes of the GPA Second Intergovernmental Review Meeting and the implications for future GPA implementation in the East Asian region. He outlined a new strategic direction for the GPA, emphasizing national- and local-level action, and linkages with poverty reduction-focused initiatives. He said that most East Asian countries have policy initiatives in place to address GPA-related issues and several are being implemented, although some countries may need to redefine priority action areas to be addressed at the national and regional level.
Tracy Hart, World Bank, spoke on the costs of unmet demands for clean water and sanitation in East Asia. She explained that these costs include: economic and environmental costs suffered by sectors such as health, fisheries and tourism; and the cost of infrastructure needed to meet demand. Citing a case study from the Philippines, she asserted that the economic benefits of meeting the MDGs relating to water and sanitation are estimated at eight times their associated cost.
Maria Corazon, PEMSEA, presented an overview of public and private sector capacities in environmental investments in five East Asian countries. She highlighted recommendations for: improving institutional arrangements and structures; overcoming constraints to financing environmental infrastructure projects; and strengthening public and private sector investments through partnerships.
Participants discussed reasons for poor implementation despite the clear economic benefits. One participant noted that MDG targets refer only to basic sanitation levels, and that meeting the MDGs would not eliminate all costs related to current unmet demand for clean water and adequate sanitation. Discussion on funding options considered endowments and debt-for-nature swaps.
Policies and incentives for scaling up investments for pollution reduction: Samuel Arle Dan Biller discussed policies and incentives to reduce coastal and marine environmental degradation, stressing the need for economic valuation of coastal and marine resources such as waterways and beaches. He also presented policy options, including: using economic incentives; ensuring property rights; developing revolving funds; using market mechanisms; involving civil society; and securing public disclosure regarding water pollution.
Noting that the economic cost of pollution is estimated at 4-8% of GDP in many developing countries and that meeting the MDGs requires a doubling of investments, Magda Lovei described the international experience with environmental funds. She emphasized that overcoming the financial challenge requires conditions for sustainable financing, including partnerships and good public environmental expenditure management. She also said that good governance, political will to support environmental policies, strong local institutions and public information are essential.
Igor Xalar, Volksbank-Ljudska Banka, described a European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)/GEF environment facility in Slovenia that aims to clean up the Danube River Basin, and promote environmental investments by the private sector and municipalities. He noted that Volksbank was the first to join the facility with a €12 million investment in 12 projects that generated a total of €28 million in environmental investments. He also expressed hope that by the project’s completion, pollution in the Danube River would be decreased by 85-90%.
Hocine Chalal, the World Bank, presented on a revolving fund in Egypt, which aims to provide incentives to polluters to improve their environmental management capacity and performance. He said the fund operates in collaboration with the government, bilateral and multilateral financing institutions, and that 200 projects valued at US$330 million are in the pipeline.
Kamran Khan, the World Bank, presented on a Project Preparation Revolving Fund (PPRF) to facilitate environmental investment in East Asia, which would be implemented by UNDP and PEMSEA with support from the World Bank. He said that the proposed fund would improve project preparation standards in the sector and minimize operational risks resulting from smaller investments with shorter lending periods. Khan further explained the fund’s rationale and modalities, noting that its purpose is to assist local governments in developing countries in the preparation of project proposals for funding from international financial institutions. Adrian Ross, PEMSEA, described the role of PEMSEA in the implementation of the PPRF, saying that PEMSEA will conduct a feasibility study, facilitate country and regional consultations and consensus building, and provide technical assistance to local governments and other proponents on project development, preparation and financing. Amelia Supetran, UNDP, said the PPRF will further validate and upscale UNDP’s initiatives on innovative financial mechanisms, noting that the tentative start date for tender submissions is January 2007.
During the ensuing discussion, panelists and participants emphasized the importance of building the capacity of local governments to develop project proposals, as well as involving the private sector in developing and implementing such a fund. Two Chinese participants said that such a fund would have a limited market in China. Several participants said that local expertise should be used instead of hiring foreign consultants.
Won Keun Chang, Korea Maritime Institute, described the Republic of Korea’s national MPA policy. He drew attention to overlapping mandates in MPA management, sometimes resulting in a situation whereby the terrestrial and marine parts of the same MPA are managed by different agencies. He highlighted increased budget allocations, strategic planning and newly enacted legislation as opportunities for improving MPA management. At the same time, he expressed concerns over conflicts between agencies and stakeholders over MPA designation, increases in MPA-related lawsuits and the existence of “paper parks.”
Liu Aizhi, Hebei Normal University, discussed foreshore protection and ecotourism development in Quinghuangdao, China. She highlighted impacts of land reclamation, port development, industry effluent and tourism, and outlined stages in planning and establishment of MPAs.
Erlinda Gonzales, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Philippines, highlighted the PEMSEA project on addressing pollution and promoting sustainable development in Manila Bay, which contributes 55% of the country’s GDP and provides significant ecosystem goods and services. She outlined the Manila Bay Coastal Strategy and noted ongoing activities on extending sanitation services in Metro Manila, rehabilitating Pasig River through relocation of informal settlers, and scaling up the ICRM programme.
Mary-Ann Tercero, Bohol Marine Triangle Project, the Philippines, shared experiences in coastal resources management in the Bohol Marine Triangle, one of the world’s richest marine biodiversity hotspots. She said the project has succeeded in, inter alia: generating stakeholder awareness and support; establishing a sustainable financing mechanism through user fees; promoting sustainable livelihoods; rehabilitating ecosystems; and advancing legislation and policy development. Tercero further noted challenges, including tourism impacts, illegal fishing practices, securing continued political leadership, and broadening stakeholder involvement to include the private sector, youth, women and indigenous groups.
Kyung-Tae Jung, Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute, presented a study on environmental management and rehabilitation technologies in the Han River and Kyonggi Bay, an estuarine system which had suffered from industrialization impacts. He advocated that environmental impact assessments should consider “cumulative effects” to avert indiscriminate, large-scale coastal development.
Wanfei Qiu, University College London, presented the findings of a UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre study of fisheries in Asian MPAs. She reported that in 496 MPAs surveyed, a total of 760 fishing zones had been established, and that 43% of MPAs had “no-take” zones. She underscored the need to enforce national legislation, promote cross-sector cooperation between fisheries and environment agencies, recognize multiple values of MPAs, and better communicate their benefits to users and other stakeholders.
Mark Wunsch, Phuket Aquarium, Thailand, explored new approaches for a better public understanding of science based on education and outreach programmes undertaken by the Aquarium following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. He highlighted the concept of “edu-tainment” for kids, which combines learning and fun.
Corazon Claudio, President, Earth Institute – Asia, presented activities to promote sustainability in poor indigenous and urban communities in the Philippines, including ecologically-sound housing, environmental risk communication, assessment and management, and integrated water and sanitation systems.
Pilar Habito, Cahbriba Alternative School Foundation, the Philippines, presented the “waves of change” initiative to promote sustainable development in Southeast Asian seas. She advocated “giving the poor a voice” through decentralization, adaptive learning, and empowering youth and the elderly.
So-Min Cheong, University of Kansas, US, spoke on emerging fields of study relating to the relationship between humans and the natural environment, including biocomplexity, ecological economics and sustainability science. She explained that integrated coastal management has focused largely on integrating social and economic aspects and has not always incorporated scientific information effectively.
Purwito Martosubroto, Indonesian Fisheries Society, described challenges faced in moving towards fisheries co-management in Indonesia, including: difficulties posed by an open-access regime for coastal fisheries; inadequate representation of fishers in stakeholder discussions; and a lack of data on socioeconomic aspects of fisheries.
Hiromi Yamashita, University of Birmingham, UK, outlined the concept of “invisible risks,” which includes risks that are hidden to senses (pesticides), time-hidden (tobacco smoking), and scale-hidden (environmental degradation). She presented examples of miscommunication of environmental risks in the coastal management context, and advocated for public awareness of perceptual shortcomings and possible manipulation of risk information, and a culture of questioning and accountability.
Naviaty Pzamani, Bogor Agriculture University, Indonesia, highlighted environmental problems in Jakarta Bay and efforts to implement an integrated river basin and coastal management strategy. She stressed the need to generate support for strategic approaches through implementation of site-specific action programmes.
Romina Acevedo Galindo, Beijing University, summarized a comparative study on legal instruments for the protection of the marine environment in China and Venezuela. She said that both systems are good, but can be strengthened; stating that the Chinese system has good pollution controls, while Venezuela has good legislation for natural resource management and land planning.
Chair Alcala summarized the presentations, noting common
interests in winning stakeholder commitment and government support for
achieving sustainability. The ensuing discussion focused on: improving
government coordination; increasing community awareness and ownership of
problems; the role of NGOs; and making information concise and
accessible to policy-makers.