Vol. 131 No. 4
Eas congress 2006 highlights:
On Friday, the Ministerial Forum continued its work. In the morning, ministers and high-level officials from 11 PEMSEA member countries discussed the implementation of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA). In the afternoon the signing ceremony of the Haikou Partnership Agreement on the implementation of SDS-SEA was held aboard a marine surveillance vessel that sailed in the Qiongzhou Strait, off the coast of Haikou City. The multidisciplinary expert group meeting and a session on capacity building for coastal and ocean governance also convened in the morning and afternoon.
STATEMENTS BY PEMSEA MEMBER COUNTRIES AND PARTNERS: Chair Sun Zhihui, Administrator, State Oceanic Administration, China, welcomed participants, noting that the first Ministerial Forum in 2003 resulted in the Putrajaya Declaration of Regional Cooperation, which endorsed the SDS-SEA. He said that despite countries’ efforts over the past three years, SDS-SEA implementation still has some way to go, and emphasized that the adoption of the Haikou Partnership Agreement would signify countries’ renewed political commitment to work cooperatively to improve the state of the marine and coastal environment in East Asia.
Khieu Muth, Secretary of State for the Environment, Cambodia, stated that regional issues such as marine environmental degradation and resource depletion cannot be solved by any country alone, but require actions in partnership. He highlighted Cambodia’s commitment to sustainable development, and said the Haikou Partnership Agreement represents goodwill and a commitment to concrete actions.
Chen Lianzheng, Deputy Administrator, State Oceanic Administration, China, emphasized the importance of consensus and cooperation in addressing marine issues in East Asian seas. He explained that the Haikou Partnership Agreement proposes a three-year cycle for EAS congresses and ministerial meetings to ensure continuity, and said that support from the Regional Partnership Fund and the GEF is essential for effective implementation of SDS-SEA. Describing the Agreement as the most significant result of the EAS Congress 2006, he reiterated China’s commitment to provide financial and other support to SDS-SEA implementation.
Hyong Jun Kim, Vice-Minister, Ministry of Land and Environmental Protection, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said the EAS Congress 2006 and the signing of the Haikou Partnership Agreement would be a turning point in the implementation of SDS-SEA through a partnership among participating countries, international agencies and PEMSEA. He highlighted national efforts to promote sustainable coastal and ocean management, including the adoption of new laws and establishment of protected areas and capacity building.
Masnellyarti Hilman, Deputy Minister for Nature Conservation, Indonesia, noted that PEMSEA has been supporting ICRM work for many years, highlighting workshops on habitat restoration, sanitation for fishing communities, safety and environmental protection in the Malacca Straits, and integrated river basin management. She called for scaling up successful demonstration projects at the national level, and reiterated Indonesia’s commitment to continue its participation in the next phase of PEMSEA.
Recalling Agenda 21 and WSSD commitments on oceans and coasts, Heizo Kito, Deputy Minister for Technical Affairs, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, Japan, underscored PEMSEA’s and SDS-SEA’s contribution to the sustainability of the world’s oceans. He said coastal and ocean management in Japan draws upon the same spirit of partnership, noting projects in Tokyo and Osaka bays. On international cooperation, he highlighted Japan’s assistance to SDS-SEA implementation through supporting initiatives such as the International Coral Reef Initiative, the ASEAN Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Project, and the Southeast Asia Fisheries Development Centre.
Noulinh Sinbandhit, Chairman, Water Resources Coordination Committee Secretariat, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, highlighted his country’s contribution to the sustainable development of the Mekong River Basin, including through the Mekong River Commission. He said his government is promoting integrated water resources management and ICRM, recognizing links between upstream, coastal and offshore development. Sinbandhit expressed his government’s support for PEMSEA and SDS-SEA implementation through the adoption of the Haikou Partnership Agreement.
Noting that the Philippines is a megadiverse country with one of the world’s longest coastlines, Angelo T. Reyes, Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Philippines, underscored the importance of goods and services provided by coastal and marine ecosystems and lamented their degradation. He highlighted PEMSEA as a showcase for sustainable development of coastal and marine areas and an effective tool to promote transboundary cooperation, urging continued support in its next phase as a regional partnership mechanism. He closed by stating that East Asian countries have a “fighting chance” to collectively address threats to oceans and coasts.
Eun Lee, Vice-Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, the Republic of Korea, stated that his country looks to the ocean to sustain future generations, and underscored international and regional action as a vital factor for achieving the protection of the marine environment. He announced that his country is in the process of establishing a trust fund to support the PEMSEA Secretariat, and will continue working towards the successful implementation of SDS-SEA and meeting the priorities of the Haikou Partnership Agreement.
Rosa Daniel, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Singapore, spoke of the region’s crucial shipping lanes, beautiful marine species, and wide range of coastal livelihoods. She expressed Singapore’s willingness to continue its contribution to capacity building in areas including wastewater management, accession to international instruments, and preparedness and response to hazardous waste incidents, as part of the commitment to SDS-SEA implementation.
Estanislau Aleixo da Silva, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Timor-Leste, emphasized that sustainable management of water resources and oceans is vital for food security, and that governments, local people and NGOs all have a critical role to play. Noting that Timor-Leste is a young country in need of international expertise and assistance, he expressed the hope of learning from others and working cooperatively to benefit the region’s people and environment.
Nguyen Cong Thanh, Vice-Minister, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Vietnam, said environmental management and protection have become “hot issues” in the National Assembly in recent years, highlighting the adoption of the Environment Protection Law, which contains a chapter on the marine environment. He encouraged multistakeholder participation in SDS-SEA implementation to achieve the sustainable development of marine and coastal areas in the East Asian region, and said Vietnam hopes to further develop bilateral cooperation with other PEMSEA member countries.
He Changchui, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, said that FAO recognizes PEMSEA as one of the most important strategic partnerships in the region. Noting the broad areas of common interests between the two organizations, he suggested areas of cooperation, including: developing a code of conduct for fisheries; promoting coastal environmental management and control of pollution from land-based sources; and promoting prevention of, preparedness for and response to natural disasters.
Magda Lovei, the World Bank, said the objectives and strategy of the partnership for implementing SDS-SEA is in line with the Bank’s objectives and strategy. She expressed the Bank’s commitment to supporting the partnership.
PEMSEA REPORT ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF SDS-SEA: Chua Thia-Eng, Regional Programme Director, PEMSEA, presented on challenges, responses, strategies and actions for the implementation of SDS-SEA. Highlighting the ecological and socioeconomic importance of the region’s seas, he noted that effective coastal and ocean governance requires long-term endeavors, enormous human and financial resources, an integrated management approach, and cooperation at all levels. He emphasized that SDS-SEA is also a collaborative platform for implementing existing commitments such as WSSD targets, the MDGs, GPA and Agenda 21. Thia-Eng outlined the proposed structure and operating arrangements under the Haikou Partnership Agreement, featuring: an EAS Partnership Council including all government, stakeholder, donor and intergovernmental agency partners; a PEMSEA Resource Facility to support implementation of SDS-SEA; a Regional Partnership Fund; and partnership operating arrangements.
Thia-Eng further outlined future objectives and targets to measure progress in SDS-SEA implementation, which include:
He also outlined the programme’s transformation over the next 10 years, which includes: a transitional phase (2007-2010) during which countries, partners and stakeholders will develop, agree on, and commence the implementation of a ten-year framework of partnership programmes under SDS-SEA; a transformation phase (2010-2013), in which national policies, legislation and programmes in coastal and ocean governance and ICRM will be fully implemented; and a sustainable operation phase (2013-2017), when countries and their partners will take full responsibility for SDS-SEA implementation and long-term sustainability of the regional mechanism. At the end of this phase, the Ministerial Forum will review the achievements and consider the endorsement of a second-cycle SDS-SEA as a guiding framework for the next ten years.
In closing, Thia-Eng said that the expected results include: increased coverage of coastal and marine protected areas under integrated management programmes; increased number of countries implementing national coastal and ocean policies; physical changes on the ground, such as nutrient reduction, habitat protection, and a reduction in use conflicts; and contribution to ocean security in the areas of food security, environmental sustainability and safety at sea.
In the ensuing discussion, participants welcomed the proposed strategic approach. CHINA suggested that the GEF provide greater support to the partnership. Emphasizing the need for sustained financial support to SDS-SEA implementation and growing threats to East Asian seas, the REPUBLIC OF KOREA urged the GEF to assign a high priority to the East Asian region in its funding allocations. INDONESIA expressed hope that donor agencies will cooperate in supporting SDS-SEA implementation. The GEF briefed participants on the status of the fourth replenishment, noting that the expected allocation to the international waters focal area would be lower compared to the third replenishment. He also noted that the next GEF work programme is expected in June 2007.
JAPAN prioritized the establishment of feasible targets to promote SDS-SEA activities in the region based on partnerships. In response to a question on the harmonization of SDS-SEA targets with those contained in other international commitments, Thia-Eng said that SDS-SEA targets had been set based on the integrated ecosystem management targets and therefore are not in conflict. SINGAPORE said that SDS-SEA is an integrated vision and a collective effort to engage the industry, academia and NGOs. She emphasized the importance of capacity building, and research & development, expressing support for the strategy and policies embodied in SDS-SEA.
SIGNING OF THE HAIKOU PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT: Ministers from 11 countries (Cambodia, China, DPR Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, the Philippines, RO Korea, Singapore, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam) affixed their signatures to the Agreement. Chair Sun Zhihui said that the ceremony symbolizes the initiation of the Haikou Partnership Agreement, which will enable PEMSEA countries to be better united and coordinated in implementing SDS-SEA. Congratulating ministers, Chen Ci, Mayor of Haikou City, said the Agreement will promote sustainable coastal management in the city and in the East Asian region.
Co-Chair Aprilani Soegiarto, Indonesian Institute of Sciences, said that the objective of the meeting is to discuss the development of an efficient, cost-effective and regular reporting system for the state of the coasts at the national and regional levels to monitor progress in the implementation of activities within the SDS-SEA framework. He said that the meeting is expected to produce recommendations for a reporting system framework that can be expanded later to monitor the implementation of the SDS-SEA.
Russell Reichelt, Reef and Rainforest Research Centre, Australia, reported on the results of the Seminar on the Common Framework for the State of the Coasts Reporting in East Asia, held during the EAS Congress 2006. Summarizing the seminar conclusions, he said that the reporting system should: identify a clear purpose and target audience; use simple messages that lead to action; and develop templates that work at different scales.
Nancy Bermas-Atrigenio, PEMSEA, outlined ongoing efforts to develop a regional coastal reporting framework and noted that the report is intended to provide information to policymakers, environment and natural resource managers and other stakeholders on: conditions of marine and coastal resources, and trends or changes that are occurring; driving forces for the changes; social, economic and environmental implications; and responses to SDS-SEA implementation. She also said that the report would be released on a triennial basis, with the first baseline report to be presented to the Ministerial Forum at the next EAS Congress in 2009.
The ensuing discussion focused on: the purpose of the report; the appropriate level and target audience; the possibility of creating a web-based interactive database; availability of baseline and monitoring data; timeframes; and simplification of scientific and technical terms contained in the report. Gunnar Kullenberg, International Ocean Institute, underscored that the report should trigger concrete action by policymakers. Some participants suggested that the report should identify and include case studies, rather than collating only statistical data. Nguyen Minh Son, Institute of Environmental Technology, Vietnam, drew attention to the need for local capacity building for reporting. Many cautioned against duplication of already existing reports. Co-Chair Gil Jacinto, University of the Philippines, summarized the discussion, emphasizing the importance of reporting to monitor progress towards the sustainability of the seas of East Asia.
Co-Chair Gil Jacinto noted that PEMSEA and the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission have recently conducted a survey assessing East Asian countries’ capacity-building needs in ocean and coastal governance, undertaken to identify and assist with developing strategies to implement SDS-SEA. He highlighted the two key issues: identifying capacity development gaps that require national and international efforts; and exploring the possibilities for a common postgraduate curriculum in ICRM and ocean affairs in the region. Co-Chair Biliana Cicin-Sain, University of Delaware, US, described the Nippon Foundationï¿½s efforts to create an international ocean governance network to link universities, and outlined the activities of the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands to promote ICRM at the national, regional and international levels.
In the ensuing discussion, participants identified short- and long-term capacity-building needs. Regarding short-term needs, participants highlighted: developing a consortium to identify strengths and weaknesses in capacity building in ocean and coastal governance; and ï¿½on-the-jobï¿½ coaching and training for local governments and ICRM practitioners in order to update their skills and knowledge.
On long-term capacity building, participants addressed the lack of mid-level coastal managers who can bridge local government knowledge and that of the academic institutions. Creating a demand for such skills, and garnering student interest, were also recognized as challenges. Participants further discussed formal training on ICRM to strengthen skills and capacity at the postgraduate level across the region, with several highlighting existing courses such as Masterï¿½s degree programmes in marine affairs and environmental management and their adaptability to ICRM. Participants identified elements of training courses and competencies of graduates, including: knowledge of ICRM and broader environmental and natural resources management concepts; planning and monitoring; knowledge of key international legal instruments related to the marine environment, such as UNCLOS; familiarity with socioeconomic issues, particularly livelihoods; and communications, negotiation and leadership skills.
Participants further made a number of recommendations to PEMSEA, including: creating a web-based repository of ï¿½ICRM knowledge productsï¿½; organizing national and regional training courses, including on-site courses for local governments and practitioners, as well as ï¿½training of trainersï¿½; scaling up efforts for degree training through a consortium; supporting training networks linking academia, NGOs and practitioners; developing guidelines on competencies needed by ICRM managers; and conducting an analysis of supply and demand for ICRM practitioners.