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IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC)

Advancing knowledge and cooperation for a healthy ocean and prosperous society

Regional Planning Workshop sets the stage for actions in the North Pacific and Western Pacific Marginal Seas for the UN Ocean Science Decade for Sustainable Development

2 August 2019, Tokyo Japan, the three-day UN Ocean Science Decade Regional Planning Workshop (RPW) for the North Pacific and Western Pacific Marginal Seas (RPW-NPWPMS) in Tokyo, Japan culminated in a wide range of actions and partnerships to advance scientific knowledge needed for sustainable development.

The planning workshop received overwhelming interests with more than 160 participants from 18 countries, spanning communities from ocean policy and management, ocean science and technology, business and industry, NGOs and civil society, donors and foundations, and various intergovernmental and international bodies/programmes.

“We shall take the once-in-a-life time opportunity to shape a better ocean science agenda and connect ocean science more closely to our society”.

The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), proclaimed by The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in December 2017, aims to support efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health and gather ocean stakeholders worldwide behind a common framework that will ensure ocean science can fully support countries in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals.

The region is the most densely populated area in the world with a population of more than three billion. Human activities have been inextricably linked to ocean, with large impacts on the surrounding coastal waters and marine ecosystems. Primarily associated with increasing economic development, climate change, non-sustainable resource extraction, land-based pollution, and habitat degradation are threatening the productivity and health of the ocean.

“Science and technology are a major driven force for social-economic development. Along with policy formulating, education public campaign and private sectors engagement, science will help pinpoint the most effective actions and create new solutions”.

This Regional Planning Workshop (RPW) aims to build dialogues amongst various ocean stakeholders in the region, focusing on the co-development of solution-oriented research strategies to address the Decade six societal outcomes: a clean ocean, a healthy and resilient ocean, a predicted ocean, a safe ocean, a sustainably harvested and productive ocean, and a transparent and accessible ocean.

A group of prestigious representatives opened this event, shared their perspectives for the Ocean Science Decade and expectation on the future efforts in the region. These included Mami Oyama, Secretary-General, Japanese National Commission for UNESCO, MEXT; Vo Si Tuan, Chairperson of the IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific; Takashi Hamada, Cabinet Counsellor, Cabinet Office, Japan; Chul Park, Chairperson of the North Pacific Marine Science Organization; Shigeru Aoyagi, Director of the UNESCO Bangkok; and Vladimir Ryabinin, IOC Executive Secretary.

The workshop featured two plenary sessions and six breakout sessions. In addition to the plenary session on the major results of the 1st Global Planning Meeting (13-15 May 2019, Denmark), all participants broke out into six working groups with deliberations on: knowledge gaps or scientific priorities in the region that should be addressed to achieve the six social outcomes; existing and potential international initiatives, programmes and /or partnerships in addressing these knowledge gaps and scientific priorities; the role of cross-cutting themes in the Decade, such as capacity development and marine technology transfer, partnerships and financing, data, information and knowledge sharing, and communication and awareness. On the afternoon of 2 August, all participants gathered again to further examine all WGs proposed actions, and reflect on their preparations, willingness, even potential commitments to the Decade, including the need to engage early career professional into the Decade.

“The Regional Planning Workshop represents a starting point for all individuals, institutions and countries in the region to examine their science actions and synergize efforts in achieving the Decade objectives”.

A high level of enthusiasm for and passion about the Decade has been pervasive throughout the event, resulting in a series of concrete follow-up arrangements. The RPW reflected priority issues and development challenges in the region, identified knowledge gap and scientific priorities, and provided recommendations on future science actions. These valuable inputs and recommendations will be integrated into the Decade global science action plan and operational plan.

The Regional Planning Workshop was organized by the IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC), in close cooperation with the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES), Japanese National Committee for IOC/UNESCO, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), the University of Tokyo and other partners in the region.

The Sub-Commission would extend his sincere appreciation to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) for its financial support; to all partners, co-organizers, conveners and rapporteurs for their tremendous efforts. Without it, the RPM wouldn’t have been a real success.