PEMSEA commits to assisting its partners achieve the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA) goals. As the pioneer of integrated coastal management (ICM) in East Asia, PEMSEA provides integrated solutions for effective management of coastal and marine areas, supporting sustainable rehabilitation and protection and adaptive and resilientcommunities. ICM creates positive impacts on communities through food security and livelihood opportunities, pollution and waste management, water use and supply management as well as civil society empowerment, including the youth.
Through our work, we have achieved over 17% coverage of the region's coastline under ICM, impacting more than 42,000 km of coast and over 146 million people living in coastal and watershed areas.
Many coastal management issues cut across sectors — e.g., the aquaculture sector, if not properly zoned, could affect ship navigation routes and tourism sites. The conventional, sectoral management approach, which addresses these challenges separately on a sector-by-sector basis, is typically not sufficient for solving complex problems in coastal areas.
Integration and coordination of various coastal and marine management efforts is the major objective of the integrated coastal management (ICM) approach. ICM addresses the governance of human activities affecting the sustainable use of goods and services generated by coastal and marine ecosystems. This approach overcomes the limitations of conventional sectoral management through the following:
- Facilitating better understanding of the uniqueness of the coastal resource system. Through an integrated management approach, ICM reminds the various stakeholders that diverse sectors are involved in ensuring coastal areas' sustainability, since their collective activities affect the overall ecosystem. In contrast, single-sector management often fails to consider the various impacts of multiple uses of coastal resources.
- Integrating ecological, social and economic information. This ensures that management strategies formulated under ICM are responsive to the multiple users and uses of coastal resource systems.
- Promoting interdisciplinary approaches and cooperation among users and beneficiaries to address complex development issues. Through coordination, coastal management efforts by various stakeholders are not duplicated or conflicting, ensuring a more efficient and effective management system.
The East Asian Seas Region is known as the global center of marine biodiversity and endemism. It hosts one of the most diverse and richest marine ecosystems in the world and as such, is considered as a global hotspot for biodiversity conservation. The region’s marine ecosystems, however, are also known to be one of the most threatened by an array of drivers ranging from high population growth, rapid industrialization, urbanization and climate change. These drivers are exerting tremendous pressures on the region’s natural resource base. Local pressures, which include overharvesting of fishery resource, use of destructive fishing methods, land- and sea-based pollution, coastal development and marine recreation are most severe in Southeast Asia where 95% of coral reefs are threatened and 50% are in the high or very high threat category. Indonesia and the Philippines, two of the world’s megadiversity countries, have the largest areas of threatened reefs (Burke et al., 2011). Global stressors on the other hand come in the form of ocean acidification and rising sea temperature, which reduce coral calcification and can elicit coral bleaching events respectively. Integrated coastal management has been recommended as a necessary framework to help address the cumulative impacts of the various stressors.
Significant effort has been made by the countries in the EAS Region in curbing the continuing habitat degradation and loss of biodiversity. These include among others: accession to biodiversity-related international conventions and agreements (i.e., CBD, CMS, CITES, RAMSAR); development and adoption of national biodiversity action plans, participation in regional programs and mechanisms with biodiversity components (i.e., ASEAN, CTI, SSME, ATSEA, YSLME, PEMSEA); implementation of donor-funded and community-based biodiversity conservation projects focusing on species conservation; establishment of MPAs as management tools in biodiversity conservation and planning; and developing conservationfocused ICM programs to contribute to scaling up ICM to cover 25% of the regional coastline by 2021.
For EAS countries, climate change adaptation/disaster risk reduction is a key area of concern due to the major impacts of ocean warming, sea level rise, and ocean acidification, which are very likely to increase significantly throughout the 21st century. PEMSEA Partner Countries have themselves identified climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction as national priorities towards the achievement of sustainable development, particularly in terms of enhancing adaptive capacity, risk assessment, and improving response systems and infrastructure.
Over the years, the region has shown its commitment to addressing climate change and disaster risks. The EAS countries are parties to the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Hyogo Framework of Action (2005-2015) and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030). Several regional commitments have also been entered by the countries highlighting CC and DRR as priorities, and as part of the overall implementation of the SDS-SEA through integrated coastal management (ICM). These include the Manila Declaration (2009) and the Changwon Declaration (2012). In 2015, countries in the EAS region adopted the updated SDS-SEA integrating the “Adapt” Strategy, which provides the clear framework and strategies for addressing CC/DRR. Similarly, Action 3.2 of the SDS-SEA Implementation Plan (2012-2016) covered the priorities of CCA/DRR through scaling up the implementation of ICM programs.
Reported trends suggest that the continuous decline of the region’s coastal and marine ecosystems is caused in part by various pollution-related detriments, increasing threats to the services that these ecosystems provide to humanity. The majority of marine pollutants come from land-based sources, which includes nutrient over-enrichment (eutrophication) caused by agricultural run-offs, and municipal and industrial wastes and discharges.
Marine debris, also known as marine litter, is defined as “any persistent, manufactured or processed solid material discarded, disposed of or abandoned in the marine and coastal environment”4 . Marine litter originates from land- and sea-based sources, a majority of which (approximately 80%) comes from landbased sources. A marine litter that takes decades to decompose, plastics, comprise 60 to 80 percent of all marine debris.
Sea-based sources of marine pollution include maritime transport, industrial exploration and offshore oil platforms, fishing, and aquaculture. Aside from the plastics, solid waste, and other industrial waste that seabased activities generate, the threat of oil and chemical spills, and the capacity of ballast water to introduce invasive species also have significant effects to coastal and marine ecosystems worldwide.
PEMSEA Partner Countries are parties and signatories to major international instruments, conventions, and protocols on marine pollution management and major international and regional programs of actions, including the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA) and the ASEAN Cooperation Plan on Transboundary Pollution. Under the GPA framework, National Plans of Actions and/or relevant national plans and strategies to address land-based pollution are developed and prepared by the signatory countries5 (United Nations, 2017b).
At the country level, initiatives that address marine pollution focus on the management of pollutants from land-based sources such as projects and programs on solid waste and wastewater management, sewage treatment, and sanitation programs. Several EAS countries also have their respective Intergrated River Basin and Coastal Area Management (IRBCAM)/Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) plans. Sub-regional efforts such as the Gulf of Thailand’s cooperation on oil spill preparedness and response, the YSLME’s program focus on land-based pollution from major river basin’s discharging in the Yellow Sea, and NOWPAP’s marine litter management and preparedness and response exercises addressing oil and noxious and harmful substances, are all notable steps towards marine pollution management in the region.
The Regional Review on SDS-SEA Implementation 2003-2015 noted the significant progress made by the EAS countries in developing and implementing national policies, strategies, action plans and programs in coastal and ocean management and river basin management (84% of countries with policies, action plans and programs; 75% with national interagency and intersectoral coordination mechanisms) , as well as in expanding the geographical and functional coverage of ICM in the region (>14% regional coastline coverage as of June 2015). In terms of State of the Coasts (SOC) reporting, 29 local governments were recorded to have initiated or completed their reports by end of 2015, while national and regional SOC reporting process was initiated in 2016.
At the organizational and institutional level, good progress was also achieved by PEMSEA in line with its transformation into an international organization with its own legal entity, including ratification of PEMSEA’s Headquarters Agreement with the Government of the Philippines (May 2015), compliance of PRF’s financial management system as certified by KPMG audits (from 2014-2015) and PriceWaterHouseCoopers audit (2016); and the Third Party Assessment Report: Achieving a Self-Sustaining PEMSEA Resource Facility, which was received and accepted by the EAS Partnership Council in July 2017.
The Da Nang Compact, which was adopted during the Minsters Forum at the EAS Congress 2015, set 4 key targets for ocean governance and strategic partnerships in support of SDS-SEA implementation, as follows: a) by 2017, a self-sustaining PEMSEA Resource Facility managing and coordinating a suite of products, services and financing mechanisms, for advancing SDS-SEA implementation at the regional, national and local levels; b) by 2018, a regional State of Oceans and Coasts reporting system to monitor the impacts and benefits, and to continually improve planning and management of SDS-SEA implementation; c) by 2021, national ocean and coastal policies, and supporting legislation and institutional arrangements set up and functional in 100% of PEMSEA Partner Countries, consistent with international environmental and sustainable development commitments and based on best available scientific information; and d) by 2021, ICM programs for sustainable development of coastal and marine areas covering at least 25% of the region’s coastline and contiguous watershed areas, supporting national priorities and commitments under UN SDGs, UNFCCC, Aichi Biodiversity Targets, UNISDR Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk reduction, and other relevant environmental and sustainable development targets subscribed to by PEMSEA Partner Countries.
SDS-SEA implementation challenges national and local governments in coastal areas throughout the region with the formidable task of reducing conflicting and non-sustainable usage of natural resources through the application and replication of ICM programs. The objectives of the Knowledge Management and Capacity Development over the next five years are framed to address key issues in the current arrangements. The action programs, indicators and targets herein cannot be accomplished in isolation of other ongoing and planned programs or projects in the region. Rather, they provide a framework for collaborating and partnering opportunities for the common benefit of healthy and resilient oceans and coasts across the region.
A major direct benefit of goods and services generated by marine and coastal ecosystems in the region comes in the form of fishery and aquatic resources, which generate important livelihood opportunities in fishing, farming and the post-harvest economic sector. However, uncontrolled economic development and a high dependence of the poor on natural resources for their livelihood have resulted in the degradation of habitats and resources and loss of biodiversity. As a result, the capacity of the ecosystems in several countries in the region to provide goods and services, such as adequate and safe food supply, clean air and water, protection from natural and human-made disasters, and livelihood opportunities have been negatively affected.
The challenge lies on how to stop or slow the rapid rate of overexploitation of resources, destruction of habitats that serve as spawning and nursery grounds, and degradation of the quality of the environment. Many countries have initiated efforts to address food security and livelihood management issues, such as those associated with fishing, farming, the post-harvest industries and ecotourism activities. Through the ICM framework, PEMSEA countries, in collaboration with relevant international and regional organizations, are in the process of developing strategic action programmes for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture by combating illegal fishing, reducing the number of fisherfolk and the overcapitalization of fishing fleets, maintaining fishing within the maximum sustainable yield level, and implementing the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
The ICM framework and processes provide an appropriate overall governance framework for the management of fisheries and aquaculture. Fisheries and aquaculture management can benefit from the overall governance framework that can address externalities. Fisheries and aquaculture management has been incorporated into the strategic action plans in several ICM sites including Bali, Bataan, Batangas, Cavite, Chonburi, Danang, Sukabumi, Xiamen and the Manila Bay and Bohai Sea.
A number of other strategies and activities have been facilitated to enhance food security and manage livelihoods, including reduction in illegal fishing practices through strengthened monitoring and regulatory bodies; empowering communities by providing greater control in managing and protecting their resources; and technical assistance to promote more efficient fishery and aquaculture production methods.
Water plays a vital role in life sustenance on earth, and will become increasingly critical in the future given the continuing population growth and economic development. There is growing and conflicting demand for water for domestic, agricultural and industrial purposes in the face of water scarcity, inadequate infrastructure and limited access to water, and habitat destruction and pollution, all of which affect water quality and quantity. The availability of and access to water has become one of the most important challenges that countries face today, and water resource management has become a major priority in most countries where water supply shortage is threatening their development.
The goal of the water use and supply management program is to increase the amount of water available to users while protecting water resources, water-dependent natural systems and interrelated habitats. The ecosystem-based management approach ensures an integrated and holistic approach to the management of river basins down to the coastal and marine areas. This involves protection of forests, watersheds, wetlands, surface water (rivers, lakes, streams) and groundwater aquifers to ensure adequate water supply and acceptable water quality. Greater attention is also given to the promotion of water reuse, recycling and other conservation measures as well as the upgrading of water supply and distribution systems to reduce losses, and improving cost-effective technology such as in desalination of seawater to increase available water supply. Access to safe water at a convenient distance and at an affordable price provides a boost to human health and productivity.
While many PEMSEA countries are located in comparatively water-rich Southeast Asia, they all unfortunately face the same problem of water shortage due to decades of water misuse, destruction of tropical rainforest especially catchment areas, severe water pollution, excessive extraction of groundwater, and poor and unregulated land resource management. Given the many agencies involved in water management and with overlapping functions, institutional arrangements have to be streamlined, with proper delineation of roles and responsibilities. Policies and programs are also needed to be set in place for the regulation of use and extraction, including proper allocation among various users; pollution reduction to mitigate contamination of surface water and groundwater; water tariff restructuring and application of market-based instruments, such as user fees, to reflect the full value of water as a resource; and regular monitoring of surface water and groundwater quality and quantity.