Mandaluyong City, Philippines — The Executive Committee of the East Asian Seas Partnership Council recently held its fifth meeting on 24-25 July in Manila. The Meeting was attended by representatives from PEMSEA's 11 Country Partners and 9 non-Country Partners, as well as from the UNDP Regional Centre in Bangkok and UNDP Philippines.Several Country Partner representatives expressed their respective country's approval in principle to sign the Agreement Recognizing the Legal Personality of PEMSEA, and are awaiting formal approval from their respective national authorities.The Executive Committee urged the Countries to target the completion of their respective internal consultation and approval processes before November, with a view to signing the Agreement during the EAS Congress 2009.The Meeting reviewed a proposed Ministerial Declaration that will be presented to the Ministers of PEMSEA Country Partners during the Third Ministerial Forum at the EAS Congress 2009. The Meeting decided to recommend that the document be named the "Manila Declaration on Strengthening the Implementation of Integrated Coastal Management for Sustainable Development and Climate Change Adaptation in the Seas of East Asia Region.In preparation for the transformation of PEMSEA into an international organization after obtaining its international legal personality, the Meeting requested the PEMSEA Resource Facility to undertake the development of an implementation plan for the SDS-SEA and to prepare a draft business plan for PEMSEA, highlighting PEMSEA's niche in ICM implementation and building a globally-recognized brand name based on its strengths.Regarding the EAS Congress 2009, the Meeting expressed satisfaction on the progress made on the preparations for the Congress, particularly on the administrative and logistical arrangements. As of July 2009, almost 800 participants have registered. Many Partners expressed their support for the Congress through co-sponsorship of events; co-organizing the workshops; sending participants to the Youth Forum; participating in workshops, etc.Secretary Jose L. Atienza Jr. of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources provided welcoming remarks and invited all the Partners of PEMSEA to the Congress. He urged all PEMSEA Partners' active participation and promotion of the Congress. He assured participants of the warm Filipino hospitality as well as their security and safety during the Congress. Ms. Teresita S. Castillo, DENR Undersecretary for Special Concerns/Social Mobilization, and Mr. Demetrio L. Ignacio, DENR Undersecretary for Policy and Planning, provided key inputs on meeting discussions and extended personal invitations to the participants regarding the Congress.The Executive Committee of the EAS Partnership Council is composed of Dr. Chua Thia-Eng, (Council Chair); Dr. Li Haiqing (Intergovernmental Session Chair); and Mr. Hiroshi Terashima (Technical Session Chair). The Executive Director of the PRF, Prof. Raphael P.M. Lotilla, serves as Secretary of the Executive Committee.