By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Eleven countries bordering the seas of East Asia on Thursday issued a joint declaration affirming their commitment towards the conservation and sustainable development of coastal and marine resources in the region.
The Iloilo Ministerial Declaration titled “East Asian Region Moving As One to Secure Healthy Oceans, People and Economies” was adopted by environment ministers and heads of delegation during the 6th Ministerial Forum of the East Asian Seas Congress 2018 held in Iloilo City.
Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, North Korea, Singapore, South Korea, Timor-Leste, Vietnam and the Philippines are members of the Partnerships in Environmental Management for Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA), an intergovernmental organization operating in East Asia to foster and sustain healthy and resilient oceans, coasts, communities and economies across the region.
The 2018 Ministerial Declaration reaffirms commitments previously made in previous ministerial forums since 2003.
It also 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.
To achieve these benefits, 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.
PEMSEA, together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), facilitated the ministerial forum that was chaired by the Philippines, represented by DENR Undersecretary Rodolfo Garcia.
DENR 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.