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IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC)

Advancing knowledge and cooperation for a healthy ocean and prosperous society

IOC Regional Training and Research Center to be established in Japan

Japan is one step closer to hosting a Regional Training and Research Center (RTRC) for UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) following a recent feasibility study workshop.

In recent years, as global awareness of the critical importance of promoting sustainable human interaction with oceans has been on the rise, many international fora (World Summit on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, UN Regular Process) have identified the need to strengthen marine science capacities of developing nations in order to advance sustainable ocean management at all levels. The establishment of an RTRC on Ocean Dynamics and Climate in China in 2011 was a major step forward in raising awareness on this critical issue in Asia-Pacific and efforts will be further bolstered by the proposed RTRC in Japan.

The “International Feasibility Study Workshop towards the establishment of an IOC Regional Training and Research Center (RTRC) in Japan” was held in Kashiwa, Japan from 18 to 19 November 2014, organized by the Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, the University of Tokyo (AORI) in cooperation with the IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC).

Some 28 regional experts from China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Palau, Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam, IOC and WESTPAC attended the workshop. The experts discussed what the focus of the Japanese RTRC should be and Member States also provided updates on progress in efforts to establish IOC RTRCs in their own countries.

Along with Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Viet Nam are among the countries leading efforts to establish RTRCs in the region.

At its 7th Session in Malaysia in 2008, WESTPAC initiated a self-driven capacity-building program, the “IOC Regional Network of Training and Research Centers (RTRCs) on Marine Science”. The programme aims to improve regional capability and capacity for marine sciences in a sustainable and systematic manner through the establishment of IOC RTRCs in national oceanographic institutes or universities, and the provision of regular trainings and research opportunities in these centers within their domains of focus.

Several member states have since expressed their willingness to host these centers; Japan in particular has recognized the importance of the initiative and pushed ahead with efforts to establish its RTRC based on its scientific specialization and regional recognition.

At the recent workshop, all participants encouraged Japan’s efforts to establish an RTRC that will help develop regional capacity and conduct research in coastal and marine sustainability science in view of the pressing need for sustainability science in the region to put into practice integrated approaches to marine scientific research for sustainable development.

Workshop participants recommended that WESTPAC conduct further consultations with countries interested in establishing RTRCs to assist them in preparing proposals.

They also stressed the need for WESTPAC to continuously develop this regional network, with the aim of strengthening national and regional capacity in a sustainable and systematic manner, guided by the objectives of fostering North-South, and South-South collaboration and developing training programs to serve the goals of research addressing critical challenges to sustainable development in the region.

Participants expressed their appreciation to the government of Japan and the AORI for their support in organizing the workshop and WESTPAC for its efforts in recent years to initiate capacity building tools and programs that address user needs at the national and regional levels, particularly in the push for regional RTRCs.