The Northwest Pacific Action Plan was invited to the 24th Intergovernmental Meeting of the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia to share its experiences on addressing marine environmental protection through institutional strengthening on. The meeting took place in June 2019 in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia.
Participants discussed the establishment and operation of the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia’s regional activity centres to enhance its abilities to protect the marine environment. Indonesia established a Regional Capacity Centre for Clean Seas to respond to its presidential decree and Bali Declaration which called for mainstreaming of the protection of coastal and marine ecosystems including from marine litter and microplastics, and to foster linkages with the Regional Seas Programmes.
Indonesia suggested exploring the opportunity of making the Regional Capacity Centre for Clean Seas into a regional activity centre of the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia. Its aim is to assist countries to improve their national capacities towards implementation of the Coordinating Body’s action plan and strategic direction. The Government of Indonesia allocated US$500,000 as initial funding from its national budget, with additional finance of US$500,000 envisaged annually.
Ning Liu, Programme Officer from the Northwest Pacific Action Plan, introduced the history and operation modalities of their regional activity centres. He explained that the Special Monitoring and Coastal Environmental Assessment Regional Activity Centre was set up by the Ministry of Environment of Japan in 1999, with the Government of Japan providing financial and human resources. The Centre has conducted research and assessments of the state of the marine, coastal and associated freshwater environments, promoted and coordinated regional cooperation through national focal points and nominated experts related to special monitoring and assessment of the marine and coastal environment.
Similarly, the Republic of Korea hosted the Marine Environmental Emergency Preparedness and Response Regional Activity Centre to address oil spills and hazardous and noxious substances spills. In the Sanchi incident, where a ship which contained more than 130,000 tonnes of oil sank near Shanghai in early 2018, Member States have exchanged information effectively and timely through the mechanism set up by the Centre.
The Data and Information Regional Activity Centre hosted by China has facilitated marine environmental information exchange in the region, while the Pollution Monitoring Regional Activity Centre hosted by the Russian Federation has conducted various research project on pollution monitoring and environmental assessment.
Ning Liu highlighted that the Centres have enhanced the ownership of Member States and increased the Northwest Pacific Action Plan’s abilities to address marine and coastal environmental protection. The Centres have also played an important role in leveraging financial resources.
The meeting appreciated Indonesia’s efforts in reducing and mitigating land-based sources of marine pollution through institutional development focusing on capacity building, knowledge management and awareness raising. Participants also encouraged Indonesia to further develop the Regional Capacity Centre for Clean Seas, to transform it into a Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia Regional Activity Centre for consideration at the 25th intergovernmental meeting.