Speech 3 Dr. Chua Thia-Eng
Regional Cooperation Maritime Affairs in the East Asian Seas Region : Challenges and Opportunities
Dr. Chua Thia-Eng
Regional Programme Director,
GEF/UNDP/IMO Regional Programme on Building Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA)
The seas of East Asia have long been playing a vital role in the socioeconomic development of coastal nations in the region and more so in the new millennium in the light of globalization of economy and further concentration of human populations in coastal areas. Decades of indiscriminate use and rampant exploitation of the maritime resources have resulted in the destruction or impairment of the functional integrity of the marine ecosystems thus, reducing their contribution to products and services for the future generation. Human threats to environmental sustainability have reached a point where our remaining ocean heritage is at risk.
The challenges to regional cooperation lie in the implementation of international instruments particularly in addressing many cross-country maritime issues. Fragmentation of opportunities for regional cooperation, however are greatly accelerated by the change in maritime trade, the desire to gain mutual benefits from the opening of markets in the region and the world at large, the need for coordinated information especially in sea and land communication and more importantly, the increasing demand for maritime safety and a cleaner marine environment.
A new paradigm is emerging with countries preparing themselves in the light of the abovementioned changes. Increasing numbers of coastal and maritime nations have developed or in the process of developing marine/maritime policy, undertake structural reorganization and capacity building in order to meet the growing challenges and take advantage of the opportunities that have been created.
Over the last decades, the Nippon Foundation has made significant contributions in developing a critical mass of human resources in the area of maritime affairs. By networking, they can help shape the development of maritime affairs in the region. Networking is a very important tool that mobilizes various experiences and knowledge of network members in different parts of the region. It does not only promote connectivity but also an effective tool for south-south cooperation.
The role of the Seas East Asia
The seas of East Asia are playing a vital role in the socioeconomic development of the coastal countries in the region in terms of food, employment, marine primary produce, mariculture, recreation and transport. These goods and services are essentially contributed by the five regional seas, viz: the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea, the South China Sea, the SuluCelebes Sea and the Indonesian Sea. It hosts the center of marine biodiversity with more than one third of the world's coral reefs and mangrove wetlands located in the region.
The East Asian Seas region boasts an era of rapid economic and urban development far exceeded that of many parts of the world (Fig. 1). The findings of oil deposits in the continental shelf of South China Sea contributed to the national coffers of many developing g nations such as Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia. The high demand for energy from rapid economic development in China, South Korea and Japan for internal consumption and export of manufacturing goods as well as primary produce from Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines boosted the maritime trades since the 70's. The projected maritime trade has indeed increased from 15% of the regional Gross Domestic products (GDP) in 1970 to 50% in 1995 with an annual growth rate of about 10% (World Bank 1998).
Thus, over the last decades, the volume of oil transported through the Straits of Malacca has increased from 3 million barrels a day to over 7 millions/day. Half of the world's merchant fleets sail through the Straits of Malacca and the Lombok Straits. Correspondingly, intra and inter-country shipping also intensified with increasing number of ports and harbors being established all over the coastlines of the region including terminals for fisheries, tourism, oil, cargos, passengers, etc. thirteen out of the 20 largest maritime ports in the world are now located in the region (AAPA 1999)
The new millennium sees a greater expansion of these roles in view of the fast pace of globalization and realignment of regional economy, increasing coastal urbanization as well as the further concentration of human populations along coastal areas.
The Problems of Environmental Sustainability and Safety at Sea
On the other hand, the seas of East Asia still facing serious issues relating to environmental degradation, safety at sea and sustainable use of its natural resources. Decades of indiscriminate use and rampant exploitation of the coastal and marine resources have resulted in the destruction or impairment of the functional integrity of the marine ecosystems, thus reducing their contribution to products and services for the future generation. The coastal and marine ecosystems, which have generated more than 41 million tons of fisheries products (FAO 1999) or about 40% of world fisheries production in the past, are being compromised in the name of economic and urban development.
Continued degradation of the environmental conditions of the coastal waters and the seas and oceans have seriously eroded the carrying capacity of ecosystems, caused public hazards such as floods and coastal erosion and affected public health, especially among the coastal poor. There are more than 278 million coastal people in the region still living in abject poverty earning less than one dollar a day (World Bank 2000)-. As most of them are living in coastal urban areas and islands, inaccessibility to natural living resources has long lasting impacts on the nutrition of the people as well as to their social well-being. Human threats to environmental sustainability indeed have reached a point wherein our remaining ocean heritage is at risk.
Navigational safety in the region is also an issue of great concern. Substandard and over aged-vessels are causes of frequent shipping accidents in this part of the world. Most of the vessels plying the waters of East Asia are of the single-hulled types.
Maritime piracy is another issue threatening safety at sea. Of the 469 global pirate attacks reported in 2000. 77 seafarers were killed and 99 were injured. Forty percent of such attacks occurred in Indonesia and the Straits of Malacca. Despite renewed efforts by the Royal Malaysian Police, the number of attacks at the Straits of Malacca rose from 2 in 1999 to 75 in 2000(IMB2000).
Jurisdictional conflicts in the South China Sea are major cause of concern and anxiety amongst the peace loving people of the region.
A significant number of international maritime instruments and agreements have been enacted. National efforts in maritime regulation have also intensified in recent years. These measures have indeed improved navigational safety of vessels but remain ineffective in arresting environment degradation and overexploitation of marine resources, in reducing multiple use conflicts and marine privacy.
Increasing maritime trades will bring about greater expansion of ports and harbors, increased navigational traffic and greater demand for marine good and services. Both economic and population pressure in the coastal and marine areas are expected to intensify so much so that regional and international cooperation in addressing these maritime issues become a matter of urgency.
The Challenge and the Opportunities
The challenge, however, lies in the implementation of international instruments particularly in addressing many cross-country maritime issues. The new challenge requires the recognition of the impacts in the landsea interface not only in relation to the exploitation of natural resources and the environment but also the economic interface between those from land and the sea.
Fragmentation of natural policy and legislation in the area of maritime affairs is another challenge to the wisdom and determination of natural policy makers if peaceful and sustainable use of the seas of East Asia is to be achieved.
The opportunities for regional cooperation is greatly accelerated be the change in maritime trade, the desire to gain mutual benefits from the opening of markets in the region and the world at large and the timely need for coordinated information especially in sea and land communication, and more importantly, the increasing demand for maritime safety and a cleaner marine environment.
A new paradigm is emerging with countries preparing themselves in the light of the abovementioned changes. Increasing numbers of coastal or maritime nations have developed or in the process of developing marine/maritime policy, undertake structural reorganization and capacity building in order to meet the growing challenges and take advantage of the opportunities that have been created.
There is also a growing need for genuine partnerships with stakeholders at the national, regional and international levels to pool human and financial resources to address many of the common environmental and safety issues through sharing of information, expertise and knowledge.
PEMSEA - Functional Framework for Regional Cooperation
Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSE) is a regional initiative of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, People's Republic of China, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The Global Environmental Facility, United Nations Development Programme and the International Maritime Organization sponsor this regional program.
PEMSEA aims to establish a multi-country and multi-sector shared vision for the seas of East Asia, along with supporting strategies and action programmes for attaining that vision. A functional regional mechanism will be established within which partnerships could be forget to implement the strategy and action programmes. PEMSEA's current activities focus on building national capacity to support implementation.
A key focus is to build local capacity to plan and manage the coastal and marine resources in partnerships with local governments, civil society, private sectors and other stakeholders. PEMSEA has established 10 integrated coastal management demonstration projects in 8 participating countries. In order to facilitate multi-country and multi-agency cooperation in managing sub regional seas and pollution hotspots, PEMSEA joins hand with national governments to implement effective marine environmental management programs at Bohai Sea, Manila Bay, Straits of Malacca and Gulf of Thailand. In an effort to improve navigational safety and cleaner environment, PEMSEA has successfully initiated a new project on 'Marine Electronic Highway' which is now being implemented through IMO.
As part of the support service, PEMSEA develops and tests management related methodologies, approaches, techniques, standards and working models to strengthen practical efforts in the field. It also develops necessary mechanism such as the Regional Ocean Think Tank and Multidisciplinary Expert Group to provide policy support and scientific advice.
PEMSEA puts special effort in identifying and demonstrating the synergies and linkages between related international instruments and regional programmes and facilitate their integrated implementation. Through such mechanism, international instruments such as UNCLOS, GPA, MARPOL, London, CLC, FUND, SOLAS and other instruments such as Climate Change and Biodiversity conventions can also be effectively implemented.
PEMSEA invests considerable efforts in building specialized regional networks that help project and programme implementation. Networking is a very important tool that mobilizes various experiences and knowledge of network members in different parts of the region to address common issues of concern. PEMSEA has established a regional Network on Legal Aspects of Marine Pollution, which was proven to be effective in the exchange of legal concepts, knowledge and experience among network members. The Regional Programme has also recently established a Regional Network of Local Governments implementing Integrated Coastal management (ICM) with the aim of building the political constituency for sustainable ICM programs at the local government level throughout the region. It shall be a collaborative type of network involving cooperative capacity building and information sharing. In addition to the two networks, PEMSEA will be also forming a network on environmental monitoring, as well as cooperate with a network of marine affair institutions in the region.
In order to attract financial resources, PEMSEA has embarked on activities that create environmental investment opportunities through our tested public-private sector partnerships program.
In short, PEMSEA has evolved over the years of implementation into an effective regional programme activity participated be the coastal nations of the region. However, it recognizes that there is a long way ahead in achieving the ultimate goals and objectives. It needs to build stronger partnerships amongst its stakeholders; many of them are present in this forum.
Challenges to Sasakawa Fellows
Over the last decades, the Nippon Foundation has made significant contribution in developing a critical mass of human resources in the area of maritime affairs by providing fellowships to hundreds of scholars from the developing nations. Most of the graduates are now playing very critical roles in the public as well as in the private sectors and they have made significant contributions to the maritime economy of most costal nations of the world.
However, with increasing challenges in the maritime affairs, the time has come for graduates to reexamine their conventional roles and to work more closely together in taking up the abovementioned challenges. At the global and especially regional level, graduates of WMU especially Sasakawa Fellows can form networks to promote maritime safety and cleaner marine environment.
With the rapid development of the maritime economy in the East Asia Seas region, the need for concerned regional efforts for implementing the various international maritime instruments has become a matter of priority. Regional collaboration in integrated implementation of international instrument can be effective in preserving peace and order, reducing maritime pollution, ensuring maritime safety and ore importantly, protecting the remaining heritage of the ocean for the present and future generations. The Ocean and Shipping Foundation certainly can play a lead role towards this direction.
In the East Asian Seas Region, many of the WMU graduates and Sasakawa Fellows are occupying key positions in the transport and environmental ministers, maritime administration, port authorities and maritime training centers. By networking, they can help shape the development of maritime affairs in the region. If formed, the network can make significant contributions in the following areas:
a) promoting national ratification and implementation of international maritime instruments
b) promoting the development of national marine policy and national maritime legislation to augment implementation of international instruments and regional action plans;
c) exchanging information, experience and expertise
d) involvement in the implementation of maritime projects and programs such as port safety and environ- mental audits; setting up of waste reception facilities under MARPOL, strengthening capacity for oil spill response and damage claims, etc;
e) serving as agents for regional collaboration in cross-country maritime issues.
The maritime issues of East Asia are complex not only in terms of geographical scope and multi-sector coverage, but also in terms of political, socioeconomic and cultural implications. Solutions to these issues require strong political leadership, a good sense of regional cooperation and partnership as well as a stronger effort in consensus building. The region poses great challenges to all stakeholders but also provides good opportunities for those who wish to make significant contributions; Our WMU graduates especially the Sasakawa Fellows from the region and the world at large are invited to take up these challenges and opportunities.
FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations) 1999.
FAO yearbook fishery statistics capture production (1997). Vo1.84.FAO, Rome. 703p.
International Maritime Bureau (IMB) 2000
piracy and armed robbery against ships 2000 International Chamber of Commerce Å＼International Maritime Bureau.
World Bank. 1998.East Asia: the road to recovery. The World Bank, Washington, D.C. 138p
World Bank. 2000. East Asia: recovery and beyond. The World Bank, Washington, D.C. 158p
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Fig. 1. Urbanization and emerging economic growth centers in East Asia