Over 100 delegates from 35 members of the PEMSEA Network of Local Governments (PNLG) across nine countries (China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Viet Nam) recently attended a virtual PNLG Forum themed “Marine Eco-civilization, Blue Development.” Delegates from Busan, South Korea were also present as observers, given their interest in applying as a regular member of the network.
Considered the first of its kind in the East Asian Seas (EAS) region, PNLG is a self-sustaining network of local governments implementing integrated coastal management (ICM) programs. It is recognized as one of the major driving forces in realizing the goal of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA) to cover 25 percent of the regional coastline with ICM programs by 2021. That goal was achieved last December 2019, with EAS countries surpassing its ICM target by 37.9 percent ahead of the deadline.
The forum was hosted by the Xiamen Municipal Government and co-organized by the PNLG Secretariat, the PEMSEA Resource Facility (PRF), and the Fujian Institute for Sustainable Oceans (FISO) and Coastal and Ocean Management Institute (COMI) of Xiamen University (XMU).
Two new members
In her speech during the general assembly, Mdm. Hajah Noraini binti Haji Roslan, PNLG President and concurrent Mayor of Subang Jaya, Malaysia, highlighted the continuing expansion of the network following the addition of two new members, namely South Bangka Regency (Indonesia) as a regular member, and FISO as an associate member. This brings the PNLG membership total to 51 regular members and three associate members, underscoring the increasing influence of the network in the EAS region.
South Bangka Regency has made notable progress in the fields of mangrove rehabilitation, coral transplantation, and waste recycling. FISO on the other hand, provides technical support to the XMU in modernizing ocean governance. FISO Coordinator-General Prof. Xue Xiongzhi and South Bangka Regent Dr. Justiar Noer were on hand for the signing of the PNLG Charter.
In China, Ms. Chen Danhong, Deputy Director-General of the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), shared that for more than 20 years, the country has been cooperating with PEMSEA and implemented four phases of the SDS-SEA. Serving as a conduit of SDS-SEA related activities, the China-PEMSEA Center has worked with other institutions to carry out the certification of ICM systems and provision of capacity-building. Given its key role, China will sign an agreement with PEMSEA to continue operating the center.
Additionally, the MNR and Xiamen Municipal Government have signed an agreement on the joint establishment of the Xiamen International Marine Cooperation Center that will oversee the work of the PNLG Secretariat, among other means of increased support from the municipal government.
Technical workshop presentations
The forum featured several keynote speakers and their respective topics:
- Sustainable coastal development: Challenges, opportunities, and role of ICM system by Dr. Chua Thia-Eng, Chair Emeritus of the EAS Partnership Council.
- Ocean governance and ICM implementation towards a blue economy development: Lessons from the scaling up of SDS-SEA Implementation in Thailand by Dr. Wansuk Senanan, Chair of the PNLC and Assistant Professor in the Department of Aquatic Sciences of Burapha University (BUU), Thailand.
- Integrated ocean management by Dr. Li Yangfan, Professor at the College of Environment and Ecology of the XMU.
- Marine spatial evaluation and planning for ICM by Dr. Ye Guanqiong, Associate Professor at the Ocean College of Zhejiang University, China.
- Evaluating the effectiveness of ICM system: Way forward for the EAS region by Ms. Nancy Bermas, Chief Technical Adviser of PEMSEA and Project Manager of the UNDP/GEF Project on Scaling up the Implementation of the SDS-SEA.
Ms. Aimee Gonzales, the Executive Director of the PRF, moderated the open discussions following the workshop. Discussions revolved around next steps for the EAS region post-pandemic; sharing of Xiamen’s perspective on coastal resilience; and lessons learned on the effectiveness of ICM in the region.
The 2020 PNLG Annual Forum concluded with Ms. Gonzales presenting the awardees of the ICM recertification process (click here for related story) and providing the delegates with information on the upcoming EAS Congress happening on December 1-4, 2021 in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.