Manila, Philippines — Coinciding with PEMSEA's 20th anniversary, the Fifth East Asian Seas (EAS) Partnership Council adopted a number of decisions and milestones that will play a crucial role in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA) in years to come, and the future of PEMSEA as an independent, self-sustaining organization.
At the Meeting's Technical Session, participants were given updates on the status of major SDS-SEA targets for 2015, such as: (1) the target for the development and adoption of national Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) policies is within reach in participating countries; (2) the target for ICM coverage of at least 20 percent of the region's coasts is also within reach, with 11.98 percent coverage of regional coastline and 57 sites covering 15.13 percent targeted to use ICM; and (3) the target for reporting ICM implementation and progress must be complemented with environmental monitoring programs to assess and validate the effectiveness of ICM.
Revisiting these targets for 2015 — a milestone year for international sustainable development agenda — prompted a proposal to update and align the SDS-SEA with new global environmental commitments, such as Rio+20's The Future We Want. The Technical Session has tasked the PEMSEA Resource Facility (PRF) to proceed with updating the SDS-SEA and drafting the post-2015 targets and implementation. The updated SDS-SEA, strategic targets for 2016–2030 and an Implementation Plan for 2016–2020 will then be presented for adoption at the next East Asian Seas Congress and Ministerial Forum in 2015. Vietnam has agreed to host these key events and has informed the Meeting of its initial preparations.
The Technical Session also facilitated a collaborative planning in line with the Five-Year SDS-SEA Implementation Plan. Country and Non-Country Partners, sponsoring agencies and collaborators were invited to present their priority initiatives and programs to help identify complementary activities or outputs and explore areas of convergence in planning, development, financing and/or implementation that would greatly contribute to the regional SDS-SEA.
The Intergovernmental Session tackled important aspects in PEMSEA's transformation into a sustainable operating mechanism. For the PRF Re-Engineering Plan, the Session approved the endorsed nominees for an Audit Committee that will provide oversight function and ensure checks and balances regarding PEMSEA's financial management. The Session also adopted a concept paper on PEMSEA Country Centers and recommended procedures for establishing and identifying the members of the proposed PEMSEA Expert Advisory Group, which can be tapped to provide advice to the PRF on specific issues and emerging trends related to SDS-SEA targets.
During the Session, Country Partners committed to extend various forms of voluntary support for the formation and funding of a PRF Core Group. Sustaining the PRF Core Group will confirm the increasing sense of regional ownership of PEMSEA among the participating countries. This show of support is crucial in fulfilling key requirements for PEMSEA's transformation, including the implementation of the PRF Re-Engineering Plan, submission of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Project Document for PEMSEA's next phase and recognition of PEMSEA as a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) implementing partner. These forthcoming developments in turn can build PEMSEA's capacity as an ICM service provider outside the East Asian Seas region, opening new opportunities and resources for PEMSEA's sustainability in the future.
New Leaders, New Partnership
The EAS Partnership Council saw a change in leadership as new Chairs and Co-Chairs were formally elected during the Meeting's Council Session. Former Co-Chairs Ambassador Mary Seet-Cheng of Singapore, Atty. Analiza Teh of the Philippines and Prof. Chul-Hwan Koh of RO Korea accepted their new positions as Council Chair, Intergovernmental Session Chair and Technical Session Chair, respectively. Elected to take their vacated positions were Dr. Antonio La Viña of the Philippines as Council Co-Chair, Dr. Zhang Zhanhai of PR China as Intergovernmental Session Co-Chair and Mr. Makoto Harunari of Japan as Technical Session Co-Chair.
The Council Session also recognized the designation of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP MSI) as PEMSEA's newest Regional Center of Excellence (RCoE) focusing on coral reef research and marine protected areas.
The Fifth EAS Partnership Council Meeting, held last 9–11 July 2013, was attended by Country Partner representatives from Cambodia, PR China, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Philippines, RO Korea, Singapore and Vietnam. A representative from Thailand was also present as an observer.
Also present were representatives from 12 Non-Country Partners: ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), Coastal Management Center (CMC), Conservation International (CI) Philippines; International Ocean Institute (IOI), International Union for Conservation of Nature-Asia Regional Office (IUCN-ARO), Korea Maritime Institute (KMI), Korea Marine Environment Management Corporation (KOEM), Northwest Pacific Action Plan of UNEP (NOWPAP), Ocean Policy Research Foundation (OPRF), Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL), PEMSEA Network of Local Governments for Sustainable Coastal Development (PNLG) and United Nations Environment Programme-Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (UNEP-GPA). Representatives from the UNDP Manila and the UNDP Regional Centre in Bangkok were present on behalf of the implementing agency and the GEF. Also in attendance were representatives from the World Bank, IPIECA and University of Queensland.
Meeting documents of the Fifth EAS Partnership Council Meeting can be downloaded from the Publications section.