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IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC)

Advancing knowledge and cooperation for a healthy ocean and prosperous society

Regional ocean science gets boost with Jakarta centre launch

17 October 2016, Jakarta, Indonesia

“If we consider the earth as a living organism, the ocean is equivalent to body fluid. Today the fluid is gradually losing its health due to pollution and greenhouse gas effects,” said Prof Dr Ir Iskandar Zulkarnaen, Chairman of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, at the recent opening of the Regional Training and Research Centre on Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health (RTRC-MarBest) in Jakarta.

The centre aims to boost scientific knowledge in the region to better monitor and combat these effects.

“Today is a most historic day for Indonesia,” said Iskandar Zulkarnaen. “The inauguration of the Regional Training and Research Centre on Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health will bring hope to revive the programme on capacity building, not only for local researchers, but also for researchers of the Western Pacific and its adjacent region.”

More than 100 representatives from relevant Indonesian ministries, research institutions, UNESCO and foreign embassies gathered at LIPI on 17 October 2016 to celebrate the centre’s launch.

Following a traditional Indonesian dance for good fortune, addresses were delivered by Dr Zainal Arifin, Deputy Chair of LIPI; Iskandar Zulkarnaen; Prof Dr Arief Rahman, Executive Chairman of the Indonesian National Commission for UNESCO; Dr Vladimir Ryabinin, UNESCO/IOC Executive Secretary; and Dr Somkiat Khokiattiwong, UNESCO/IOC Vice Chair and IOC/WESTPAC Chair.

The Western Pacific and its adjacent regions are of vast social and economic importance, with over 60% of its population living in and relying economically on coastal areas. The ocean in the region is among the richest and most productive in the world.

The region is also a primary engine for the global economy and as such has been subjected to irreversible damage caused by unregulated exploration and development, increasing pollution, as well as climate change and ocean acidification. Sound scientific research and systematic observations are essential to the sustainable governance of the ocean.

WESTPAC takes an adaptive and self-driven approach to regional capacity development to build the knowledge and capacity needed for the sustainable development of marine and costal resources.

The Jakarta centre is an output of a key effort in this regard – WESTPAC’s establishment of the “IOC Regional Network of Training and Research Centres.” The network aims to improve regional capability and capacity in marine science in a sustainable and systematic manner, by establishing IOC Regional Training and Research Centres (RTRCs) in national oceanographic institutes or universities based on their scientific specializations.

Once established, RTRCs will regularly provide training and research opportunities to young scientists, mainly those from developing countries within and outside the region.

IOC Executive Secretary, Vladimir Ryabinin said in his video address at the center’s launch that “RTRC-MarBEST will be of great significance in assisting all countries in the region to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly Goal 14 [conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources].”

Shortly after the inauguration ceremony, a two-week long training course on Crustacean Taxonomy was conducted at the MarBEST Centre Building on Pari Island, Jakarta, Indonesia from 17 to 29 October 2016. More than 30 trainees from 10 countries in the region joined the training, which aimed to enhance the capacity of young scientists in taxonomic research on tropical marine biota, especially for crustacean taxonomy, in view of the dramatically declining numbers of taxonomic specialists on specific organisms.