East Asian countries issue declaration on marine resources

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Countries bordering on the seas of East Asia have issued a joint declaration reaffirming their commitment towards the conservation and sustainable development of coastal and marine resources in the region.

Environment ministers and heads of delegation of Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, North Korea, Singapore, South Korea, Timor-Leste, Vietnam and the Philippines adopted the Iloilo Ministerial Declaration as “a reiteration and stronger call to action” to ensure sustainability.

The 11 countries are members of the Partnerships in Environmental Management for Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA), an intergovernmental organization operating in East Asia to foster and sustain healthy and resilient oceans, coasts, communities and economies across the region.

“The declaration, supported by the respective countries’ plans of action, will ensure that partner countries will work together in addressing complex issues faced by this region,” Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said.

“The seas of East Asia are the most biodiverse marine areas in the world, yet they face severe threats from climate change and densely populated coastal communities,” he added.

The Iloilo Declaration recognizes the significant value and critical contribution of coastal and marine ecosystems goods and services to securing food and jobs, helping to eradicate poverty, and building resilient coastal communities and blue economies in East Asia.

To achieve these benefits, PEMSEA member nations acknowledged the need to protect coastal and marine ecosystems from the impacts of climate change and other threats, including marine-related disasters, destruction and loss of habitats and natural coastlines, biodiversity loss and degradation, and overfishing and lack of food security.

Under the declaration, East Asian countries believe “PEMSEA remains relevant and is well-positioned to continue performing its role as the regional platform to encourage the development of common policies, building capacity and orchestrating essential collaboration and scaled up actions alongside smart financing to deliver economic and social dividends, as well as protect biodiversity and address shrinking coastlines.”

As part of their commitment to sustainable development, the countries vowed to work to achieve by 2021 the remaining targets set under the 2015 Da Nang Compact on integrated coastal management (ICM) coverage of the region’s coastlines and the adoption and implementation of ICM national laws and policies in all countries in the region.

The PEMSEA member nations also agreed to significantly reduce or prevent marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based and sea-based activities, including marine litter and nutrient pollution.

The countries, likewise, vowed to implement policies and programs for the sustainable management of coastal tourism destinations.

On the issue of climate change, PEMSEA member nations committed to implement adaptation and mitigation strategies to respond to the global phenomenon given the urgency and seriousness of its threats to the sustainable development of countries and the region.

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