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IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC)

Advancing knowledge and cooperation for a healthy ocean and prosperous society

UN Decade Action 21 Commences Marine Spatial Planning Roadmap for the Western Pacific

On 24 April 2024, the UN Ocean Decade Action -UN21 “Accelerate Marine Spatial planning (MSP) in the Western Pacific”, convened over forty government officials, marine spatial planning experts, and relevant stakeholders from Member States in the region and international organizations. The objective was to deliberate on a roadmap for marine spatial planning in the region. This Decade Action Workshop formed an integral part of the 2nd UN Ocean Decade Regional Conference & the 11th WESTPAC International Marine Science Conference (22-25 April 2024, Bangkok), the well-known international marine science event in the region, aimed at fostering international cooperation and advancing ocean science solutions for sustainable development.


“Marine and coastal areas in the Western Pacific hold vast ecological, social and economic significance. MSP has been regarded as a pragmatic approach to balance demands for sea area use with environmental protection,” stated Wenxi Zhu, Head of the IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) and Decade Coordination Office for the region. He further underscored the demands from Member States in the region and the necessity and timeliness for the Sub-Commission to initiate the MSP Decade Action-UN 21.


This MSP Action Workshop featured presentations on MSP development status both at regional and national levels. Key topics covered included policy frameworks and legislation, MSP initiatives and tools, case studies, and lessons learned.


The Workshop culminated in panel and plenary discussions focusing on the joint development of MSProadmap for the region. Key elements discussed included legal aspects of MSP, regional MSP guidelines and training, data collection and restriction, science-based analytical techniques and tools, disaster risk reduction, stakeholder engagement, identification of critical habitats, and transboundary cooperation on marine spatial planning. Representatives from Member States and organizations such as IUCN shared valuable insights on these issues.

“As a leading international institution on marine spatial planning, IOC will continue to support MSP development in the region,” reaffirmed Julian Barbière, Head of Marine Policy and Regional Coordination Section, IOC/UNESCO.

Following the decision made at the 13th Intergovernmental Session of the IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC-XIII, April 2021), the Sub-Commission initiated the UN Decade Action 21 in 2022 in the context of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030). Leveraging the MSPglobal 1.0 outputs, in particular the MSPglobal International Guide on Marine Spatial Planning, this MSP initiative aims to 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 ocean resource management, blue economy, and the 2030 Agenda as a whole. Also, the action will connect with the MSPglobal 2.0 project.  For more information about the Decade Action, visit here.

A regional Group of MSP experts, nominated by Member States in the region, were constituted in 2022. During its first workshop held in November 2023, the Group resolved to develop a MSProadmap for the region.

This MSP Action Workshop inaugurated a region-wide consultation about the regional MSProadmap. The draft text is anticipated to be available by October 2024 and will be submitted to the 15th Intergovernmental Session, tentatively scheduled for March 2025, for consideration. 


For more information on the UN Decade Action 21, please visit here.