Manado City, Indonesia — The East Asian Seas (EAS) Partnership Council has successfully conducted its first operational meeting in Manado City, Indonesia, last 17-20 July. The Meeting, which was participated in by 11 Country Partners and 11 non-Country Partners, reached important decisions related to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA).Highlights of the Meeting included the election by consensus of the Officers of the Executive Committee, consisting of the Council, Intergovernmental Session and Technical Session Chairs. Dr. Chua Thia-Eng, Dr. Li Haiqing and Mr. Hiroshi Terashima were elected to the respective positions. However, Dr. Li Haiqing was designated as Acting Council Chair up to end of September or upon the completion of Dr. Chua's term as Interim Executive Director of the PEMSEA Resource Facility (PRF). The Meeting also welcomed the International Ocean Institute (IOI) and Swedish Environmental Secretariat for Asia (SENSA) as new Partners of PEMSEA.Other major decisions reached by the Meeting include the following:Endorsement of a new $10.9 million project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The project will focus on the implementation of SDS-SEA, particularly addressing policy reforms, institutional arrangements, core partnerships and capacities, and on-the-ground pollution reduction initiatives.Development of work programs in participating countries, with regard to their participation in the new project, and the expected benefits that will occur.Establishment of a PEMSEA Partnership Fund to strengthen country capacities in coastal and marine resource management. The Fund will be developed through voluntary contributions from participating countries, as well as with the support of donors and international agencies who are working on sustainable development initiatives in the region.Development and implementation of a State of Coasts (SOC) Reporting System, to monitor the progress of the Partnership with regard to the objectives and targets that have been agreed to in the SDS-SEA. The SOC Report will particularly focus on the Partners' initiatives at the local government level, which are contributing to social, environmental and economic development and the changes that are occurring in coastal areas.The organization and implementation of an EAS Congress 2009, to be hosted by the Government of the Philippines, to serve as a marketplace for knowledge sharing of experiences and lessons learned with regard to innovative policies, technologies and practices that are contributing to the sustainable development vision and mission of the SDS-SEA.All Meeting participants, both government and non-government, emphasized the need to strengthen the partnership approach to enhance the effectiveness of the EAS Partnership Council as one of the key mechanisms for the implementation of the SDS-SEA.