Shima, Japan — The 12th annual forum of the PEMSEA Network of Local Governments for Sustainable Coastal Development (PNLG) was a successful showcase of integrated coastal management (ICM) and its use in scaling up conservation of biodiversity and natural ecosystems, including marine protected areas (MPAs).
More than 160 delegates from local governments and ICM sites in Cambodia, PR China, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Philippines, RO Korea, Singapore, Timor-Leste and Vietnam gathered last 30 September to 2 October at Shima City in Mie Prefecture, Japan, for the PNLG Forum 2013. Shima, touted as a "new satoumi city," proved to be a fitting host for this year's forum, which carried the theme "Achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, New Satoumi and Vitalization of Coastal Areas through Integrated Coastal Management."
During the event, Shima Mayor Hidekazu Oguchi shared his views on how the host city has applied ICM in establishing a satoumi — an ideal coastal environment where high biological productivity and biodiversity is expected because of harmonious and symbiotic coexistence between natural ecosystems and human activity. Other ICM case studies in Japan were also presented during the forum's technical workshop, including the revitalization of coastal areas through restoration of eelgrass beds and coastal recovery efforts in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. The workshop also presented the experiences and case studies of Sihanoukville, Cambodia; Dongying, PR China; Sukabumi, Indonesia; and Batangas, Philippines in applying ICM to manage MPAs and protect threatened marine and coastal species.
The technical workshop yielded useful lessons for local executives engaged in coastal management, such as: (1) the crucial role of stakeholders, local governments, political champions and the youth as drivers for change; (2) the contribution of traditional knowledge and community practices in the sustainable development of coastal and ocean environments; (3) the importance of tackling conservation issues to promote protection and sustainability of ecosystem services; (4) the value of the ICM framework and system in promoting a standardized approach and methodology in coastal development and management; (5) the importance of State of the Coasts reporting in monitoring progress and gaps in ICM implementation; and (6) the contribution of ICM efforts in meeting the Aichi biodiversity targets.
The PNLG, led by its new president Mr. Prak Sihara of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, also made key actions and decisions during the general assembly.
Mr. Yang Tongzhu of Dongying, PR China, was elected as the new PNLG Vice President, following the adoption of updated guidelines in nominating and electing PNLG officers.
Four new PNLG regular members (Shima, Japan; Northern Selangor, Malaysia; Changyi and Qinzhou, PR China) were formally inducted as PNLG members.
To cap off the forum, the participants went on field visits to Ise-shima National Park, Ago Bay, Shima Nature School and Ama Museum to learn more about Shima City's on-the-ground initiatives in ICM and satoumi.
Since 2001, the PNLG Forum has served as an effective venue for exchanging information, sharing good practices, discussing critical and emerging issues, and mentoring among local government members engaged in ICM implementation. This year's forum was hosted by Shima City and co-organized by the PNLG Secretariat, the Ocean Policy Research Foundation (OPRF) and the PEMSEA Resource Facility.