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IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC)

Advancing knowledge and cooperation for a healthy ocean and prosperous society

UN21: Accelerate Marine Spatial Planning in the Western Pacific

Why is it important?

The ocean is a significant source of food, protein, economy and culture for billions of people around the world, and a healthy ocean is essential for our survival and wellbeing. Escalating human activities are growing rapidly, with ever-increasing development pressures particularly in coastal waters for urban development, fishery and aquaculture, tourism and renewable energy. International communities have been exploring appropriate management approaches which are essential for balancing multiple uses of marine space, particularly in areas where use conflicts are already well known.

Over the past two decades, Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) has gained considerable importance all around the world. The MSP is defined as “a public process of analyzing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic and social objectives that have been specified through a political process.”

The Western Pacific is highly populous, rapidly advancing, yet fragile region. Coastal countries in the region have been heavily replying on marine, seas and ocean for food, job opportunities and economic activities. To meet the ever-increasing demands for marine resources, conflicts of sea area use among multiple users have been intensified in many coastal areas, resulting in marine habitat loss, biodiversity and ecosystem degradation, job and economic loss.

What we do?

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO has become a leading institution on MSP, since it organized the first international MSP workshop in 2006. documenting and sharing the international practice of MSP around the world, synthesizing lessons learned, updating technical guidance and building capacity for different groups of stakeholders. Since 2018, IOC together with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) initiated a joint initiative-MSPglobal to develop and implement international guidelines on Marine/Maritime Spatial Planning.

Likewise, the demands for accelerating marine spatial planning process in the Western Pacific were repeatedly expressed by countries in the region, as reflected at the thirteen Intergovernmental Session of the IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC, April 2021). To meet the demands and inspired by the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), after a UN Ocean Decade Incubator on solutions to the conflicts of ocean uses: accelerate marine spatial planning in the Western Pacific, the UN Ocean Decade Regional Kickoff Conference (25-26 November 2021), the Sub-Commission initiated and led the development of the Ocean Decade Action titled “Accelerate marine spatial planning in the Western Pacific”.

The Decade Action “Accelerate Marine Spatial Planning in the Western Pacific” (UN21) will build on the MSPglobal 1.0 outputs, and further promote and accelerate MSP in the Western Pacific, with a view to assisting member states in the region in achieving an ecosystem-based approach to the management of ocean resources, blue economy, and the 2030 Agenda as a whole. Also, the action will link with the MSPglobal 2.0.

The Action will carry out, but not limited to, the following main activities, which include:

  • Establish an open-ended regional MSP Group of Experts consisting of MSP experts and managers from Member States and international partners in the Western Pacific to share their experience in MSP and practices at local and national levels.
  • Adapt the MSPglobal Guide to local, national and regional context, by conducting joint MSP study on pilot sites.
  • Develop and conduct MSP assessments, tailored technical training and capacity development activities.
  • Establish the MSP Regional Forum as an international platform to bring together relevant MSP practitioners and stakeholders to share lessons and experience, showcase demonstrations, promote cooperation, and catalyze meaning partnerships needed to accelerate MSP in the region.

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Project Outputs