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The Future We Want: A Ocean for Prosperity in the Western Pacific

Nha Trang, Vietnam — The four-day WESTPAC 9th International Scientific Symposium, titled "A Healthy Ocean for Prosperity in the Western Pacific: Scientific Challenges and Possible Solutions," concluded on 25 April with the participation of close to 600 marine scientists and governmental officials from 24 countries within and outside the region.
The Symposium featured 6 keynote lectures, 14 sessions and 9 workshops structured around four themes: (1) Understanding Ocean Processes in the Indo-Pacific Region; (2) Ensuring Marine Biodiversity, Food Safety and Security; (3) Maintenance of Ocean Health; and (4) Cross-Cutting and Emerging Issues.
Among others, one of the highlights was the open-ended Research Directors' Forum, which was convened on 22 April for directors from marine scientific institutes, academic faculties and/or operational agencies in the Indo-Pacific, with one Joint Directors' Statement adopted toward the attainment of the future we want: A Healthy and Safe Ocean for Prosperity in the Indo-Pacific Region. It called for the following: urgent action to establish the Indo-Pacific Ocean Observations and Services Network (IPON); creation of the Scientific Steering Committee for Indo-Pacific Ocean Observations and Services Network (SC-IPON) as an arm to guide the development of IPON; heightened recognition from IOC/UNESCO Member States, regional leadership and policy decisionmakers on the need to establish IPON; marine scientific communities to undertake further research on, and sustained observations of, the ocean processes and climate, earth dynamics, and the impacts of climate change and anthropogenic activities on vulnerable marine biodiversity and ecosystems; increased assistance to developing nations in the Indo-Pacific region, including Small Island Developing States (SIDS); and enhanced efforts to build capacity developing nations in the Indo-Pacific region, in particular through the development of technical assistance programs and materialization of the "IOC Regional Network of Training and Research Centers on Marine Science."
During the Symposium, five scientists, Dr. Fangli Qiao (PR China), Dr. Suchana Chavanich (Thailand), Dr. Yutaka Michida (Japan), Dr. Nguyen Tac An (Vietnam), and Dr. Yasuwo Fukuyo (Japan) received the WESTPAC Outstanding Scientists 2014 Awards, in recognition for their long-term dedication to regional marine science development and cooperation in the region. Five WESTPAC Best Young Scientists were also selected from all oral and poster young scientist presenters in order to encourage young marine scientists to devote themselves to marine science, sustained observations and services underpinning the sustainability of ocean and coastal resources to benefit all.
This Symposium was hosted by the Government of Vietnam, through its Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST), jointly organized in Nha Trang coastal city by the Institute of Oceanography, VAST; the National IOC Committee for Vietnam; and the IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC).