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IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC)

Advancing knowledge and cooperation for a healthy ocean and prosperous society

WESTPAC Pushes forward Asia-Pacific Implementation of the 2030 Agenda

“To successfully achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 14, functional, proactive and transformative partnership among all sectors at all levels is a critical requirement”- This is one of the major recommendations from the regional assessment of the progress implementation of SDG 14 to the 4th Asia-Pacific Forum for the Sustainable Development (APFSD) held in Bangkok, Thailand on 29-31 March 2017. At APFSD 2017 over 500 of government representatives (from 40 countries), intergovernmental organizations, united nations officers, international organizations, civil society organizations and other relevant entities convened to deliberate the regional actions towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Hosted by ESCAP, APFSD 2017 focused on regional perspectives of the 2030 Agenda regional implementation and assess the regional progress of a cluster of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); SDG 1 (No poverty), SDG 2 (Zero hunger), SDG 3 (Good health and well-being), SDG 5 (Gender equality), SDG 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG 14 (Life below water) and SDG 17 (Partnership for the goals), which will be discussed by the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in July 2017.

The in-depth reviews of the regional implementation progress of the cluster SDGs were organized in six parallel roundtables. The Roundtable on Goal 14 was co-organized by UNESCO, UNDP, UN Environment and ESCAP. Mr. Wenxi Zhu, the Head of WESTPAC Office, representing UNESCO, gave an overview of the Asia-Pacific Outlook for SDG 14, on behalf of the co-organizers. He emphasized the value of the Asia-Pacific region in economy-, biodiversity- and pollution- context. He further highlighted the pro-active actions of several countries in the Asia-Pacific to accomplish the 2030 Agenda by establishment of inter-ministerial coordination mechanisms, integrating of SDG 14 in the national strategy, developing SDG 14 national indicators, and adopting inclusive and partnership approaches to SDG14 implementation.

Lively, intensive and extensive discussion on SDG 14 implementation in Asia-Pacific were exchanged among the invited discussants from Fiji, Thailand and Bangladesh together with representatives from Asia-Pacific CSO Forum for Sustainable Development and all the participants with Mr. Iosefa Maiava, Director of the ESCAP Pacific Office as a moderator. In particular, the systematic challenges, policy coherence, regional collaboration and promising innovations were conferred.

H.E. Mr. Semi Koroilavesau, the Minister for fisheries of Fiji and a co-chair of the upcoming UN Ocean Conference, as one of the panelists emphasized the importance of the transformative partnership and the need of the Pacific countries on scientific knowledge and research capacity development and marine technology transfer.

The role of WESTPAC as regional capacity developer to empower the countries for sustainable development was underscored and recognized by the APFSD as a promising innovation. – “With a regional collaboration via WESTPAC, Thailand and several Member States have established Ocean Acidification Monitoring Sites and provided a series of regional training necessary for Ocean Acidification Monitoring” Mr Ukkrit Satapoomin, a discussant from Thailand underlined.

H.E. Ms. Saida Muna Tasneem, the Ambassador of Bangladesh to Thailand, representing Roundtable Goal 14 as rapporteur to the APFSD panel, accentuated the significance of regional collaboration and partnership, and roles of UN and its specialize agencies in supporting the countries towards the attainment of SDG 14.

Last but not least, the great success and acceptance of this first attempt of this regional roundtable on SDG 14 was clearly re-affirmed by a request to regularly organize SDG 14 roundtable and enlarge the participation, building on existing UN ocean-related agencies and programs.