Eleven countries issued a joint declaration reaffirming their commitment to the conservation and sustainable development of coastal and marine resources during the 6th Ministerial Forum of the East Asian Seas Congress 2018 held in Iloilo City from 27 to 30 November.
Titled “East Asian Region Moving As One to Secure Healthy Oceans, People and Economies,” the Iloilo Ministerial Declaration was adopted by environment ministers and heads of delegation.
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.
The countries that adopted the declaration were Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, North Korea, Singapore, South Korea, Timor-Leste, Vietnam and the Philippines.
The signatories are all members of the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA), an intergovernmental organization advocating healthy and resilient seas and oceans, coasts, communities and economies across the region.
In his statement, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu hailed the Iloilo Ministerial Declaration as “a reiteration and stronger call to action” among countries within the East Asian region.
“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,” Cimatu pointed out.
“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,” he added.
To achieve these objectives, 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.
“We are confident that PEMSEA will continue to facilitate regional cooperation to respond to the challenges within the context of the rapidly changing social, political, economic and environmental landscapes and encourage the region to move towards a blue economy and sustainable development of its coasts and oceans,” the declaration reads.
The countries, through their representatives, also vowed to implement policies and programs for the sustainable management of coastal tourism destinations.
They also recognized the critical importance of regional collaboration in dealing with coastal and marine hazards like storm surges and tsunamis.