ILOILO CITY — Eleven countries have declared their continued commitment to protect and work for the sustainable development of coasts and oceans in East Asia.
In a declaration issued by the 6th Ministerial Forum at the East Asian Seas Congress held here on Nov. 27-30, representatives of the countries agreed to implement standing agreements and foster regional cooperation to deal with challenges facing coastal and marine resources.
They called for a shift in mindset as they recognized the vulnerability of the region to climate change and environmental threats.
These include “marine-related disasters, destruction and loss of habitats and natural coastlines, biodiversity loss and degradation, overfishing and lack of food security, pollution from land and sea-based sources, and impairment of water quality, water supply and water security.”
“The biggest threat that we face in the region is ourselves, in the way we live our lives and the way we manage our resources. We therefore strongly urge everyone to shift toward a mindset of responsible stewardship, and pledge to take bold steps to protect, manage and restore our coasts and oceans for our present and future generations,” the declaration said.
The member countries of the intergovernmental organization Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (Pemsea) include Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, North Korea, Laos, South Korea, Singapore, Timor Leste, Vietnam and the Philippines.
They recognized the importance of regional cooperation to respond to move toward a “blue economy,” a development framework that stresses the sustainable use of coastal and marine resources to uplift the economic situation of communities.
In particular, the country representatives reaffirmed their commitment on achieving their target of implementing the integrated coastal management (ICM) approach to 25 percent of the region’s coastlines and the adoption and implementation of ICM national laws and policies in all countries in the region by 2021.
They also agreed to regularly issue updates on the state of the oceans and coasts reports highlighting the contributions of coasts and oceans to economies.
Noting the strong global momentum to clear marine debris, the countries would work for the significant reduction or prevention of all kinds of marine pollution, including marine litter and nutrient pollution.
Stronger call to action
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu welcomed the declaration as “a reiteration and stronger call to action” among countries in East Asia.
“The seas of East Asia are the most biodiversed marine areas in the world, yet they face severe threats from climate change and densely populated coastal communities,” Cimatu said in his statement to the ministerial forum.
“The declaration, supported by the respective countries’ plans of action, will ensure that partner countries will work together in addressing complex issues faced by this region,” he said.
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