June saw a number of international environmental days that highlighted the need for developing a sustainable blue economy. On World Environment Day, PEMSEA published a timeline highlighting our progress towards building a blue economy for the East Asian Seas. On World Oceans Day, we looked at the issue of plastic waste, outlining some simple steps everyone can take, and highlighting examples of plastic initiatives PEMSEA has supported. We are proud to share a story about the impact of Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) projects in the Tangerang Regency of Indonesia, and to have participated in the 6th GEF Assembly which finished today.
The global plastic problem is growing more acute, while the effects of China’s plastic waste import ban are only beginning to be felt. One way to deal with plastic waste is to close the “plastic loop”, reducing the waste that flows into the ocean and impacts coastal communities. Such waste management initiatives require the expansion of blue finance initiatives to maximize their impact and reach. Finance in the form of public private partnerships have proved useful in ensuring MPA management. With green bonds becoming more closely linked with the SDGs, WWF has set up the Asia Sustainable Finance Initiative to promote environmentally sustainable finance throughout Asia.
GEF projects focused on achieving tuna fishery sustainability in the high seas are coming to an end as a new study reveals over half of high seas fishing relies on subsidies. Sustainability for wild fisheries will benefit from 20 years of research providing a mathematical model for calculating maximum sustainable yield, as well as from evidence in the Gulf of Thailand of the effectiveness of fisheries refugia. Aquaculture is also set to be improved by integrated multi-trophic techniques being applied in the Yellow Sea. Other facets of the blue economy are also being explored by the GEF, whose Blue Forests project is providing a global assessment of the value of blue forest ecosystem services. The value of such “forests” are already visible in places like Qingdao, China, where seaweed aquaculture is an important economic activity.
The importance of ICM is highlighted by new research showing that a loss of coral reefs will result in increased flood damage to coastal areas. Such environmental risks have prompted Indonesia to declare that its next five-year development plan will be low-carbon and take into account environmental carrying capacity, while the global shipping industry is considering numerous ways it could reduce its own carbon emissions.
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