The Philippine government, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), has signed a declaration that aims to strengthen green recovery and ocean governance in East Asia at the 7th East Asian Seas Ministerial Forum on Dec. 2.
Philippine delegation head and DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu signed the Preah Sihanouk Ministerial Declaration alongside ministers and senior government officials from member-countries of the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA).
PEMSEA is composed of 11 country partners, namely Cambodia, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam.
Through the Declaration, the PEMSEA member-countries have endorsed the PEMSEA Roadmap to 2030 as the region’s decadal strategic guide anchored on the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA) vision and commitment to Blue Economy.
This is aligned with PEMSEA countries’ green recovery plans and programs and key international environmental commitments.
In the Philippines’ statement, Cimatu echoed the commitment of the country to the declaration as well as urged other member-countries to champion initiatives on coastal resilience.
“This 7th Ministerial Forum, the Philippines not only reiterates its firm commitment to the implementation of the PEMSEA Roadmap 2030 and the SDS-SEA Implementation Plan 2022 to 2027, but also urges all country partners to embrace the Preah Sihanouk Ministerial Declaration on building coastal resilience to climate change impacts in East Asia and to contribute in advancing the global sustainable development agenda,” Cimatu said.
Moreover, the DENR chief highlighted the implementation of “blended protection” to address the “pressure and threats” of climate change to the ocean and marine resources.
“The country welcomes the application of blended protection that includes 30 percent coverage of both land and sea to significantly measure the equivalent effects of protection of biodiversity through strong enforcement of other conservation policies such as the total ban of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, among others,” Cimatu pointed out.
He said, however, that there is a need to strengthen collaboration with other stakeholders on the “spectrum of effective area-based conservation measures” and important marine areas.
Cimatu also boasted the Philippine government’s efforts in the rehabilitation of Boracay and the continuous restoration program of the Manila Bay, including massive clean-up, construction of solar-powered sewage treatment plants, and dredging of waterways and beach nourishment.
“Such efforts demonstrated the whole-of-government and integrated approach in addressing marine pollution which contributes to the fragile situation of our oceans,” he said.
He also noted the adoption of the national plan of action that intends to prevent, reduce and manage marine litter and aims to achieve zero-waste Philippine waters by 2040.
Cimatu said the Philippines has also embarked on sustainable fisheries and aquaculture and invested in green ports that run through renewable energy, equipped with solar panel lighting, and have shore reception facilities.
He also called on boosting programs that will conserve the forest, restoration of land-based pollution, and support emerging blue economy industries.
He added that there is a need to produce the second National State of Ocean and Coasts report that will “measure blue economy” through an economic valuation of ocean-based industries and coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.
“Let us continue to demonstrate the far-reaching effects of our cooperation and partnership for pursuing transformative actions for HOPE—healthy ocean, people, and economies,” Cimatu said.
He also extended his congratulations to the Ministry of Environment of Cambodia and the PEMSEA Resource Facility.
The Royal Government of Cambodia hosted this year’s EAS Congress and Ministerial Forum, where the member-countries joined via an online platform.
The Philippines has also hosted the EAS Congress in Iloilo in 2018.