The UN Environment’s Northwest Pacific Action Plan marks 20 years of partnership with Japan’s marine conservation centre
At an event to mark the 20th anniversary of Japan’s Northwest Pacific Region Environmental Cooperation Center (NPEC), the UN Environment’s Northwest Pacific Action Plan (NOWPAP) voiced its commitment to strengthen its 20-year partnership with the Center to help steer regional implementation of ocean-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Northwest Pacific Action Plan’s Medium-term Strategy 2018-2023.
Addressing the ‘Northwest Pacific Region Environmental Cooperation Center 20th Anniversary Symposium’ held in January in the Center’s home city of Toyama and attended by 120 members of the public, the UN Environment’s Northwest Pacific Action Plan’s Coordinator Lev Neretin highlighted how both entities have used the best available scientific knowledge to address pressing threats to the region’s marine and coastal environment over the last two decades.
These include pioneering efforts to deal with the now globally recognized problem of marine litter and a methodology for eutrophication assessment with the identification of more than 20 potential areas in the region affected by excessive nutrient pollution.
“The results of this work are being used by our regional and global partners to measure the progress of countries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The increasing focus of the Northwest Pacific Action Plan on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through strong regional cooperation should bring us even closer together in using the best available knowledge, and building capacities to address old and new threats to the marine environment,” Neretin said.
“Environmental issues are closely connected with the daily lives of citizens, and they need to be tackled by national and regional actions,” said Governor of Toyama Takakazu Ishii in his opening remarks to the event. “Therefore, international cooperation is critical. Toyama Prefecture has been working successfully with the Northwest Pacific Region Environmental Cooperation Center and Northwest Pacific Action Plan on marine litter issues. We introduced a plastic bag ban in commercial stores in Toyama back in 2008, the first Prefecture to ban plastic bags in Japan.” A keynote presentation on plastic pollution in the marine environment was made by Professor Haruyuki Kanehiro of Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, Chairman of Japan’s Ministry of Environment’s Experts’ Group on Marine Litter.
Presentations were also made by two high schools in Toyama and by the Toyama Prefecture authorities, as well as by the Northwest Pacific Region Environmental Cooperation Center.
Set up in 1999 by the Ministry of Environment, Japan, the Center has been hosting the Northwest Pacific Action Plan’s Special Monitoring and Coastal Environment Assessment Regional Activity Centre (CEARAC) for the last 20 years. The Activity Centre coordinates regional assessments of the state of the marine, coastal and associated freshwater environments, including marine biodiversity and land-based sources of pollution. It is developing new monitoring tools for seagrass distribution, and building regional remote sensing capacities.