Towards a sustainable blue economy in Asia-Pacific

Hanoi, Viet Nam
13 - Climate Action

In late February 2019, UNESCO and key partners promoted marine spatial planning and effective ocean governance for healthy and productive oceans in the Asia-Pacific region during an action-packed week in Viet Nam.

Despite the fact that they anchor the global ecosystem and millions of people across the world depend on them for their livelihood, humanity has done much to abuse the oceans and the life within. Now, in the early 21st Century, on top of the problems plastic pollution and climate change are already causing in the ocean, global population growth threatens to intensify activities in coastal and marine waters.  A systematic and trans-boundary approach to how we use the oceans is thus sorely needed to minimize negative impacts caused by anthropogenic use.

Through the International Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) which is led by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Committee (IOC) of UNESCO, the United Nations is gathering ocean stakeholders around the world behind a common framework to ensure safeguarding healthy, productive and resilient oceans through science-informed policy responses to global change and underpinning this framework is Marine Spatial Planning (MSP). IOC-UNESCO’s MSP global initiative underlines these targets, developing new international guidelines and to foster trans-boundary cooperation regarding marine spatial planning (MSP), effectively following the Ocean Decade’s motto: The ocean we need for the future we want!

To support this work in Asia Pacific, UNESCO and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) of Viet Nam co-hosted a series of events “GEF – LME:LEARN 2nd Annual Asia-Pacific Regional Network Meeting and Training” over the course of five days in February on marine spatial planning, ocean governance and sustainable blue economy.

The week started with the second Annual Asia-Pacific Network Meeting in which regional marine project managers pitched innovative proposals to private sector representatives. It was followed by an ocean governance training and a trans-boundary marine spatial planning (MSP) courses for 40 regional participants.

Through simulation activities, participants improved their negotiating skill, which is key if they are to tackle the real issue of coordination many competing interests in limited space.  “The section of planning the sea, especially when we did the trans-boundary exercise gave us a lot of […] practical experience as to how hard it is - and we learned a lot from that“, commented Nguyen Thi Thu Huyen, national coordinator of the GEF Small Grants Programme in Viet Nam.

 “What I enjoyed most about the course was the interactive section, the opportunity to share knowledge and experiences during the class and outside of class. And I am going to take this all back and share it with my stakeholders, the people that I work with” said Filifilia Iosefa, Coordinator of the GEF Small Grants Programme in Samoa.

These activities fall under the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) LME: LEARN project implemented by the UNDP and executed by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO. Its target - to build a regional community of practice among governments, national and international experts  working on coastal and marine topics in Asia-Pacific.

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