Acknowledging the economic and social importance of the ecological health of their seas, Japan, People’s Republic of China, Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation have endorsed a six-year strategy that will harness science-based cooperation for regional progress towards achieving ocean-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Representatives of the four Member States of the UN Environment Action Plan for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Northwest Pacific Region (NOWPAP) attending the 23rd Northwest Pacific Region Intergovernmental Meeting from 9 – 11 October 2018 called for enhanced regional cooperation in support of SDG 14: Life Below Water in the Northwest Pacific. The annual Northwest Pacific Region Intergovernmental Meeting was convened to review implementation of the 24-year-old Northwest Pacific Action Plan.
“The effective implementation of the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030 and Sustainable Development Goal 14 is now a top priority for UN Environment Regional Seas Programme’s organizations. The UN Environment Action Plan for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Northwest Pacific Region is an active mechanism for international collaboration for environmental protection, conservation of ecological capacity and preventing pollution of the marine environment in the Northwest Pacific Region,” said Denis Khramov, First Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment of the Russian Federation while opening the meeting.
The Northwest Pacific Region’ medium-term strategy for 2018 – 2023, reaffirmed by the meeting, aims to align activities of the Northwest Pacific Region with national and regional priorities and the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, in particular Sustainable Development Goal 14: ‘Life below water’.
Pollution from marine litter and oil spills, eutrophication, invasive species, habitat destruction and climate change are increasingly threatening the Northwest Pacific marine and coastal ecosystems.
The meeting launched an innovative project to produce up-to-date information on key species and habitats of transboundary concern in the Northwest Pacific Region that could be used as important indicators of biodiversity change caused by natural and human factors. The project will generate key information for a Regional Action Plan on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity Conservation to be formulated as part of the medium-term strategy.
Member States also agreed to step up efforts to prevent, monitor and remove marine litter from their shores and seas and to identify and propose new projects to support implementation of the strategy.
They also agreed in principle on how to monitor and evaluate its implementation using a number of criteria for:
(i) effective coordination of regional implementation of ocean-related Sustainable Development Goals using the UN Environment Northwest Pacific Region Action Plan mechanism
(ii) using an ecosystem approach to achieve ecological quality objectives agreed upon by Member States
(iii) strengthening regional and global partnerships
(iv) engaging in global processes and mechanisms in support of Sustainable Development Goals
The meeting emphasized the importance of increasing Northwest Pacific Region public outreach and awareness of its relevance for the region and beyond.
The next Intergovernmental Meeting will be held in China in 2019.
Launched in 1994, the UN Environment Action Plan for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Northwest Pacific Region is part of the global UN Environment Regional Seas Programme that aims to protect and promote sustainable use of the world’s coastal and marine environment.