SANYA CITY, CHINA— The recent annual forum of the PEMSEA Network of Local Governments (PNLG) stressed the importance of countries investing their technical and financial resources to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs. The SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The forum discussed the commitments of PNLG members as detailed in their Strategic Action Plan (SAP) for 2016-2021 and how they aim to meet the SDGs in five years.
More than 120 delegates from 30 local governments in nine countries and representatives from associate members of PNLG converged in China for its annual forum themed “Ecological Restoration of Coastal Areas for Blue Economy.” Three new PNLG members were inducted during the event: the mayors of Dili, Liquica and Manatuto, Timor Leste represented their local governments and signed the PNLG Charter. With their addition, the PNLG now has 48 local government members and two associated members.
The event underscored the value of the SAP reporting system, particularly in consolidating the contribution of the network to achieving the SDG targets. PNLG members were encouraged to use and complete the online SAP tracking forms to ensure more accurate tracking and reporting of their commitments and progress.
A panel discussion on “Investing in SDGs at the Local Level” highlighted that PNLG member countries have similar problems, but varying capacities. Addressing common problems can be accomplished by helping neighboring countries to move forward collectively under the UN SDG principle of “no one gets left behind.” PNLG’s resolve to work effectively as a network highlights the glaring truth that there is no “Plan B” for the oceans. Thus, PNLG recognizes the important role of investors in bringing the necessary funding to produce the needed social impacts.
Related to investing in SDGs at the local level, PEMSEA Executive Director Stephen Adrian Ross spoke about investment opportunities for local governments. His presentation highlighted several strategic investment partnerships PEMSEA is currently exploring in support of SDS-SEA implementation and scaling up ICM initiatives. PEMSEA plans to develop pilot investments across a variety of sectors, such as water and wastewater recovery, protected areas, sustainable marine/ecotourism, solid waste, low carbon and sustainable energy and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.
Move from conservation to ecological restoration
In his opening address, Sanya City Mayor Wa Yanjun cited the policy of the National People’s Congress on environmental protection as a guide for local level initiatives. He said that there are multiple projects under Hainan Province on ecological restoration, with Sanya addressing ecological restoration of its coastal areas since 2015.
During a panel discussion on “Conservation to Ecological Restoration of Coastal Areas for Blue Economy”, participants agreed that the following factors were essential to promote ecological restoration:
- Political will: if benefits are visualized by the politicians and they take a special interest in the issue, ecological restoration can proceed.
- Technical and management capacity: there is a need to train not only the decision makers, but also the managers and planners. The involvement of scientists is also crucial to the process.
- Financial capacity: this is necessary to fund the restoration initiative. Other sources for funding can be tapped, such as the private sector.
The PNLG’s mission is to serve as a network of local governments in the region to promote the application of integrated coastal management (ICM) as an effective management framework to achieve sustainable coastal development. This is achieved through advocacy, knowledge sharing and forging multi-stakeholder participation and partnerships among local governments, national agencies, civil society groups and the private sector. The PNLG is open for membership to all local government units and other stakeholders in the East Asian Seas region who subscribe to the mission and objectives of the PNLG.
The PNLG forum was hosted by the Sanya City Government in Hainan Province, China. It was co-organized by Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) and the PNLG Secretariat, with support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The PNLG Forum 2017 concluded with the turnover of the PNLG flag to the Provincial Government of Guimaras, Philippines as host of the PNLG Forum 2018 to be held in conjunction with the East Asian Seas (EAS) Congress 2018 scheduled on November 26-30, 2018.