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The East Asian Seas Congress 2009: Eye on Partnerships and Action on the Ground

Last modified October 26, 2009

The East Asian seas are home to six large marine ecosystems, covering an estimated 30 percent of the entire world's coral reefs and comprising 80 percent of its aquaculture. At the same time, the pressure of escalating coastal populations and rapid economic development are seriously depleting the ecosystem's capacity to sustain productivity levels.

There is an urgent call to collaborative and cooperative action to address these pressing issues. Thankfully, the call is not falling on deaf ears.

The East Asian Seas (EAS) Congress is a triennial regional event that serves as a platform in identifying and addressing the region's existing and emerging issues on coastal and ocean resources and the environment. The Congress gathers representatives from governments, UN agencies, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, industry, academia and the youth, to dialogue, exchange knowledge and forge alliances in line with the sustainable development of marine and coastal areas and resources of the region.

Coming to Manila, Philippines this November, the EAS Congress 2009 is anchored on the theme "Partnerships at Work: Local Implementation and Good Practices." The event will focus on how interregional, interagency and multisectoral partnerships contribute to attaining environmental targets through initiatives undertaken on the ground. It will also look into issues confronting local governments, communities and other stakeholders.

The first Congress was held in Malaysia in 2003, wherein the Putrajaya Declaration was duly signed by 12 Ministers from the region, and from which the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA) was adopted. The SDS-SEA is the region's first instrument representing a common platform for regional cooperation in addressing transboundary issues, and is a framework for policy and program development and implementation at the national and local levels.

The 2006 Congress, held in the People's Republic of China, witnessed the signing of the Haikou Partnership Agreement of the 11-Country Partners and the Partnership Operating Arrangements of 12 non-Country Partners of PEMSEA. These provide for both government and nongovernment stakeholders to stand as Partners and serve as complements of each other in the SDS-SEA implementation initiatives, with the overall goal of catalyzing the sustainable development of large marine ecosystems of East Asia.

Picking up from these achievements, the 2009 Congress will review and evaluate the implementation of the SDS-SEA and will look further into assessing the achievements and challenges that remain, by mapping out future actions to ensure steady advancement. Of significance to the Congress will be the discussion and endorsement of an action agenda for scaling up integrated coastal management (ICM) programs as an on-the-ground approach to climate change mitigation and adaptation, particularly at the local level.

Invited to deliver keynote addresses during the opening of the 2009 Congress gatherings are Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos, for the Third Ministerial Forum and the International Conference on Sustainable Coastal and Ocean Development, respectively. Other special activities and meetings include the Second EAS Youth Forum, the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) Network of Local Governments for Sustainable Coastal Development Meeting, the Exhibition on Good Practices and Innovative Technologies, the Corporate Social Responsibility Forum for Coastal and Marine Areas and the Sustainable Development of Manila Bay, and the PEMSEA Partners' Recognition and Awards Ceremony and Partnership Night. Various field visits to coastal projects and sites will also be available.

More than a thousand participants are expected to attend the regional event, including participants from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, the Philippines, People's Republic of China, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam. Representatives from more than 20 countries outside of the region are also expected to attend.

The East Asian Seas Congress 2009 will take place from November 23 to 27 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila, the Philippines. It is hosted by the Philippine Government and co-organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and PEMSEA, and supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).

To learn more about the East Asian Seas Congress 2009, contact the Secretariat at congress@pemsea.org or visit www.pemsea.org/eascongress.