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Concerted efforts on regional blue economy assessment for sustainable development

Blue Economy Forum 2017

14 - 15 November 2017
Bangkok, Thailand

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This forum was a follow-up to the Consultative Workshop on the national blue economy status by MIMA on 2nd November in cooperation with the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA).

It addressed the state of ocean health and progress in valuing the ocean economy at national and regional levels, as well as the marine ecosystems services on which societies depend. Blue economy initiatives, innovations, policies and mechanisms towards realising a sustainable blue economy development in the region were discussed.

The region is the centre of marine biodiversity globally and crucial for economic growth. It is home to more than 30 percent of the world’s critical ecosystems i.e., coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass beds. It also serves as a major tourist destination, fishing grounds, and as a conduit for world trade through ports and shipping activities, as well as a source for offshore oil and gas. Overall, the ocean economy is projected to contribute between 3 to 19 percent of the GDP of each country in the region. The region however, faces increasing issues and threats to the survival of its ecosystems and biodiversity as well as those related to poverty alleviation, climate change, and food, water and energy security. In accordance with the targets set in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), various measures and strategies are being put into place by governments and international organisations in the region towards achieving sustainable coasts and oceans.

One such effort is the formulation of a regional blue economy assessment to address sustainable blue economy development. This initiative aims to make an assessment of ocean economy, ecosystem services and investment opportunities for sustainable blue economy development. The assessment aims to strengthen understanding of the role of the ocean and its contribution to national economies, impacts of human activities on ocean health and sustainability, potential areas for investments in environmentally-sound technologies and infrastructure, and the interventions and innovative mechanisms needed to respond to the changing environments and climate.

More than 120 representatives and stakeholders from the governments, academe, and NGOs participated in the forum. Distinguished guests at the opening included Dr. Wijarn Simachaya, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Thailand, Mr Stephen Adrian Ross, Executive Director of PEMSEA, Prof Dr. Suthipun Jitpimolmard, Director of Thailand Research Fund, and Mr Pongpanu Svetarandra, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports Thailand.

The sessions specified details of the various aspects of blue economy development and assessment in the region, and included (i) State of the Oceans and Coasts reporting, (ii) Large Marine Ecosystems assessment, (iii) Navigating the paradigm shift for oceans as natural capital and good business, as well as (iii) Blue solutions for protecting ocean health and environmental governance systems.

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During the Panel Session on ‘navigating the paradigm shift for oceans as natural capital and good business’ with speakers from Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines; moderated by Dr. Waraporn Hirunwatsiri from the World Bank

 

Cheryl Rita, Head of the Centre for Coastal and Marine Environment MIMA spoke in sessions (i) and (iii). She elaborated on the progress on the national assessment of blue economy, and later elaborated on ‘green practices’ in the shipping and port sector. The Malaysian representatives at the forum also included Dato’ Dr. Sukarno, Director General of the Department of Marine Parks, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MNRE) who spoke on the ecosystems services, benefits and evaluation in Malaysian marine parks.

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Group photo of the Panel at the Session on ‘State of the Oceans and Coasts reporting’; moderated by Prof Alistair Mcllgorm from the University of Wollongong Australia and Prof Melanie Austen from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory United Kingdom

 

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Cheryl Rita from MIMA receiving a appreciation token from the Organisers

 

MIMA is playing an active role in supporting the aspiration to pave the way and fulfil national obligations under the UN SDGs Targets, Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and other international conventions and agreements. The development of a detailed national assessment of blue economy will contribute to building a comprehensive picture of its development in the country and in region.  

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