An IOC side event entitled “the Development of an IOC Regional Network of Training and Research Centers (RTRCs) on Marine Science in the Western Pacific and its adjacent regions: as a commitment to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)” took place on 27 June 2019, Paris during the 30th Session of the IOC Assembly (26 June-3 July 2019, Paris, France).
The side event was initially proposed by the Philippines, supported by China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam at the 12th Intergovernmental Session of the Sub-Commission (2-5 April 2019, Manila, the Philippines), aiming to communicate to all IOC Member States and stakeholders about the WESTPAC’s effort in the development of regional training and research centers, solicit suggestions and inputs for further capacity development, and demonstrate Member States’ commitment to the implementation of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).
A number of delegates to the IOC Assembly and permanent delegations to UNESCO joined the side event. “The RTRCs initiative has been recognized as a best of practice of countries in the region for capacity development and transfer of marine technology”, Said Vo Si Tuan, Chair of the Sub-Commission at the opening and his introduction about the initiative. Invited panelists: Jun Feng from China, Zainal Arifin from Indonesia, Gil Jacinto from the Philippines, and Hiroaki Saito from Japan shared their experience in running regional training and research centers, and perspectives towards the establishment of new training and research centers. The side event aroused the strong interest of participants in the IOC Assembly. Later on, the Sub-Commission was invited for a dialogue with his sister Sub-Commission, IOCARIBE.
The IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) initiated in 2008 the “Development of a Regional Network of Training and Research Centers (RTRCs)”, aiming to improve regional capability and capacity on marine science in a sustainable and systematic manner, through the establishment of regional training and research centers in national oceanographic institutes or universities, and provision of regular training and research opportunities on their domains of focus to early career scientists within and outside the region. It employs a co-design and co-development approach to capacity development in order to suit the needs of stakeholders.
The level of support to this initiative was expressed by the strong willingness of a wealth of countries in the region. Two RTRCs have been established, respectively on Ocean Dynamics and Climate in 2010 at the First Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Natural Resources of China, and on Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health (MarBEST) in 2017 at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences.
Another three RTRCs are currently being established: i. on Reef Management and Restoration at the University of the Philippines – Marine Science Institute; ii. on Marine Toxins and Food Safety at the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology – Institute of Oceanography; and iii. on Plastic Marine Debris and Microplastics at the East China Normal University.