Ocean Action Hub

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What is the circular economy? Stepping up the fight against waste to #SaveOurOcean
17 Dec 2018 - The circular economy is a system in which re-using and recycling is maximised and waste and negative impacts are minimized — a closed loop where as little as possible is thrown away.

17 Dec 2018 - The best research available estimates there are over 150 million tonnes of plastics in the ocean today. Under a business-as-usual scenario, the ocean will contain more plastics than fish, by weight, by 2050.

Our waste problem is, put simply, enormous. And while initiatives such as forbidding plastic straws, encouraging alternatives to plastic coffee cups, and hosting ocean cleanups are very important contributions, they are not addressing the root of the issues, and are not moving the needle nearly enough. Recycling is not a panacea for our waste woes.

To get a grasp on the problem, we need new thinking and we need to scale-up. Now. But where lie the solutions? How are we to move the proverbial needle to where it needs to be?

First, we must more deeply realise that a thriving planet — with healthy ecosystems and biodiversity — are crucial to development and a sustainable future. From reducing poverty to achieving zero hunger to securing economic growth and sustainable cities, we need a healthy environment.

Second, we need to recognise the world’s capacity for economic growth is not unlimited. In fact, just as my two kids, six and eight years old will stop growing in 10 years, in the same way, a linear economy is probably limited in its growth as well. This is outlined by economist Kate Raworth (who has previously co-authored UNDP’s Human Development Report) in her book Doughnut Economics. Raworth argues that that we have reached our planetary boundaries and that unlimited growth might not be sustainable.

Third, we need to step-up action at-scale. It is through sound government policy and business leadership, that we will make a difference.

Indeed, the private sector — multinational corporations down to small- and medium-sized enterprises — are key partners.

What is the circular economy? In contrast to the linear, extractive model I mentioned earlier, the circular economy is “an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design”. It describes a system in which re-using and recycling is maximised and waste and negative impacts are minimized — a closed loop system in which as little as possible is thrown away.

The concept is not new and has been gaining interest over the past years. However, we remain far from realizing our goals.

“We have an opportunity with the circular economy to rethink how we use resources like plastic and become a more responsible custodian of the planet. By using resources more efficiently and creating policies and economic infrastructure that encourage recycling and reuse, we can advance both Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement.” — Achim Steiner, Administrator of the UN Development Programme

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://medium.com/undp-in-asia-and-the-pacific/stepping-up-the-fight-against-waste-and-embracing-the-circular-economy-32ae747a3a11

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Marine protected areas (MPAs) in South-East Asia increasing fish stocks

8 Nov 2018 - UN Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson, says that MPAs need to increase well beyond 10% and improve their management and enforcement policies.

8 Nov 2018 - Surrounded by severely damaged coral reefs, the fishers of Indonesia’s Seraya Besar, off the west coast of Flores, struggle to make ends meet. Year-on-year fish stocks have shrivelled as the damaged reef can only support limited life. If these fishers want more, they would have to fish further out, increasing their costs and lowering profits.

Armed with memories of larger catches and bigger fish within their local waters, the fishers of Seraya Besar, in partnership with a French non-profit reef conservation organisation Coral Guardian, came together to set up a locally managed marine protected area (MPA). Manned by a 15-person team, the damaged coral reefs within the 1,550-acre MPA underwent small-scale coral restoration, under which more than 26,000 corals were planted.

According to a report by the Ocean Agency, the outcome resulted in boosted fish stocks including protected species with five-fold hauls described by fishers. Over the past two years, the coral plantings have grown to form a natural-like reef, with the steel structure barely visible. Bigger fish like groupers, trigger and butterflyfish have also been seen taking occupancy.

Within the MPA where corals have been planted, the numbers of fish have grown from 200 fish per 100 square metres to roughly 1,000 fish per 100 square metres. The impact spill-over on human livelihood can also be felt in much wider areas, including on the nearby Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Politically-motivated, scientifically-based MPA

MPAs are one of the instruments used to protect our coasts, estuaries and seas of particular scientific interest or with high biodiversity within local, national or international law from damaging human activities. The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 on life under water targets a 10 percent share of MPAs by 2020. Questions have been raised on how these areas are selected and if quotas are filled for the sake of achieving targets and not based on achieving conservation benefits.

The United Nations (UN) Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson, said that while the current determination of MPAs are both, political and scientific, governments need to do more to back their actions scientifically. According to Thomson, two big things need to happen to achieve this objective: increase MPAs well beyond 10 percent and improve their quality in terms of management and enforcement policies.

“We have to protect coastal areas, but also remote areas. We need to protect the Arctic and the Antarctic. A year ago, we were at 5.7 percent, today we are at 7.4 percent. 10 percent is definitely achievable. But we have to look beyond the 10 percent. It will not just stop after 2020. The challenge is going to be to connect all these protected areas in scientifically correct ways.

“After 2020, we have the UN Decade of Ocean Science. I would expect that during that decade we are going to be able to sift humanity’s knowledge of the science of the ocean and that will much better equip us working out what part of the ocean should be protected,” said Thomson, who is also the Co-Chair of the Friends of Ocean Action, an initiave run by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and World Resources Institute (WRI).

Local participation key to success

For countries like Indonesia where limited support from government agencies is expected due to the territorial spread of over 17,000 islands, local participation especially from fisher communities is very important. Coral Guardian's Co-founder and Scientific Director, Martin Colognoli said that in Seraya Besar, much of the work is carried out by the village’s fisher communities.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://theaseanpost.com/article/marine-protected-areas-increasing-fish-stocks

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Turning Ocean plastic into Roads

Waste in the ocean, especially plastic is eating up the fishes making them vulnerable and close to extinction.

People near have been fishing for a very long time. Their livelihood depends on it. But due to the increasing use of plastic and more horrifying dumping of that plastic into the ocean, our marine life has been endangered. Not only the marine is affected, the nets and other equipments used by fishermen gets destroyed.
This is a story of fishermen in Kerala who designed a way to not only help the fishermen save their tools but also reduce the effect of plastic in the ocean. With help from several government agencies, they’ve set up the first-ever recycling center in the region, to clean, sort and process all the sea-tossed plastic bags, bottles, straws, flip-flops and drowned Barbies that they fish out. So far, they’ve collected about 65 metric tons (71 short tons) of plastic waste.

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Policy Makers Destroying seas around India

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Marine Ecological crisis in South Asia

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Asia’s Environment Is at a Tipping Point

24 May 2018 - We need to act now to save biodiversity and ecosystems.

24 May 2018 - The Asia-Pacific region continues to lead the world’s economic growth, but a recent ground-breaking report by more than 130 of the region’s leading scientists and experts calls the future of this trajectory into question. The report provides extensive evidence that growth has been achieved at significant environmental cost and that we need to urgently reduce and, where possible reverse, biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation to ensure a more sustainable future for our children.

For the last three years, as part of the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), we have co-chaired the Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Asia and the Pacific. The most important finding of the report is that, while the rate of biodiversity loss in all parts of the region has never been higher, there has also never been as great an opportunity to stop this trend.

First, the Reality Check

But this growth came at a high cost to the environment. Many of the region’s forest, alpine, wetland, and coastal ecosystems are now degraded and important biodiversity resources are facing serious threats. Climate change has led to extreme weather and sea level rise; increased waste and pollution from growing and poorly planned urbanization is tainting our water and air; habitat destruction from agricultural intensification and monocultures is destroying important flora and fauna; and the introduction and spread of invasive alien species is accelerating this degradation.Between 1990 and 2010, the region grew at an estimated annual average economic growth rate of 7.6 percent, with much of this growth underpinned by healthy ecosystem services and rich biodiversity. As the most populous region of the world, this lifted millions of people out of poverty and improved the quality of life of millions more.

More people in the Asia-Pacific region depend on fishing and marine ecosystems for their food and livelihood security than any other region, but if current aquaculture, overfishing, and destructive harvesting practices continue, fishery and marine ecosystem based livelihoods are at great risk. It’s projected that if these unsustainable practices continue, many commercial fish stocks will decline considerably – and may even collapse – perhaps as soon as in 30 years. This trend is exacerbated by ocean warming, acidification, sea level rise, and extreme weather events brought about by anthropogenic climate change and increased pollution.

As forests, wetlands, and coastal ecosystems become increasingly threatened, the distribution and populations of flora and fauna are being thrown out of balance. The region’s loss of native varieties of cultivable plants is estimated to be the highest in the world. These rapid changes lead to increased disease and pest outbreaks, as well as takeover by invasive alien species.

Such dramatic changes are happening at an unprecedented rate, and they are having huge impacts on agriculture, human health and economic growth – with worse to come if we don’t act now.

Not All Doom and Gloom

The region has been showing some positive developments. We are protecting ever-larger marine and land areas. Forest cover has increased by 2.5 percent overall, with Northeast Asia showing an increase as high as 23 percent in the last 25 years. And countries have invested part of their growing wealth in restoring some of the natural habitats lost as a result of their economic success. For example, China increased its forested areas by nine million hectares, and Vietnam has increased its forest cover from 36 percent to 48 percent since 1990.

But increases in forest area may not align with biodiversity rich ecosystems, and these efforts alone aren’t sufficient if we are to stop and reverse biodiversity loss.

So what are the main opportunities to improve biodiversity health in the Asia-Pacific? How can countries in the region learn from their successes and failures and adjust their policies, regulations and institutions for a more sustainable future?

We Need to Act Together Now

We should all do more to prioritize effective policies and actions to stop biodiversity loss. For example, policymakers can improve biodiversity conservation by creating and increasing the economic incentives for people that depend on forests by providing better access to non-timber forest products to conserve trees and enhance carbon stocks. Perverse incentives, such as harmful subsidies (cheap land, credit, fertilizer and higher-than-market agriculture product prices) for businesses and large-scale farmers, can be removed in order to protect natural capital and ensure that development doesn’t happen at the expense of ecosystems. It makes good social, economic, and political sense for countries to protect the environment, since failing to do so will seriously jeopardize the health, wealth, resilience, and happiness of all citizens.

Better application of scientific knowledge and technology can improve food, water, and energy security, while reducing pressure on biodiversity and ecosystems in many countries in Asia and the Pacific.

We must also empower local communities to make better-informed decisions in order to ensure that their interests and those of their local ecosystems are considered. We can learn a great deal from indigenous and local peoples, respecting and integrating different knowledge systems and customs together, while increasing their capacity to better care for their environment and enhance their share of benefits.

Biodiversity conservation must also be integrated into planning, financing, and business practices for agriculture, energy, and industrial production. This may require more private-public partnerships, in which companies who benefit from biodiversity protection work with public sector partners who provide environmental checks. Improving cross-border collaboration and regional governance is key to ensuring shared benefits. Biodiversity resources and ecosystem services don’t stop at national borders, so neither should sustainable ecosystem management.

Finally, as individuals, we can support policies and actions that work toward healthier ecosystems. We can waste less food, use water more efficiently (both in agriculture and in the home), and increase our energy efficiency. Most importantly, we can educate our children on the importance of making choices that help conserve biodiversity.

If we are to meet our most pressing challenges and global targets and goals such as the Sustainable Development Goals, we need to preserve our ecosystem health and biodiversity wealth. We have growing populations to feed, and pollution and waste management crises to overcome. We must wisely manage our ecosystems, decrease pollution, and increase biodiversity protection. Otherwise, we risk the future food, water, and energy security of the region, and the quality of life we are enjoying today will be dramatically reduced, and our economic growth untenable.

Protecting nature is not an inconvenience. It’s an imperative.

CONTINUE READING: https://thediplomat.com/2018/05/asias-environment-is-at-a-tipping-point/

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East Asian Seas (EAS) Congress 2018

The East Asian Seas (EAS) Congress celebrated 25 years of partnerships for healthy oceans, people and economies. 

With the adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, and specifically Sustainable Development Goal 14 on Life Below Water, oceans have gained political, social, economic and ecological prominence that the world has never seen before.

The EAS region is one with all regions and nations in keeping this momentum going and growing. Building on the voluntary commitments and call for action of the UN Ocean Conference in June 2017, the region is gearing up for the East Asian Seas (EAS) Congress 2018, the sixth in a series of EAS triennial ocean conferences that aims to usher in a better, stronger and smarter regional actions that are strategically aligned with the key principles and targets of the global ocean agenda.

27-30 November 2018   |   Iloilo Convention Center, Philippines

TO LEARN MORE AND REGISTER, VISIT: http://pemsea.org/publications/meeting-documents/east-asian-seas-eas-con...

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Indian Ocean Conference 2017

The Indian Ocean is the world’s third largest body of water, covering about one fifth of the world's total ocean area.

The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) cuts across a vast span of territory that directly affects both the global economy and some 32 nations in the region. The countries in the IOR are for the most part developing and middle income countries, with varying levels of development, stability and security. The level of political stability, the quality of governance, demographic pressures, ethnic and sectarian tensions, and the pace of economic growth create a different mix of opportunity and risk in each state. The IOR is also one of the most complex regions in the world in human terms. It reposes significant endowments of strategic natural resources, tremendous ecological and human diversity, and resplendent cultural and civilisational traditions, making it arguably a pivotal harbinger to regional and global peace, progress and stability. Equally, it is a potential lodestar, offering a new template for maritime concert, cooperation and management, and societally-beneficent harness, of the vast blue economy. Economic development can pave the way for the countries in the IOR to eradicate poverty. Peace remains a vital condition for Progress and Economic Development, which in turn can lead to Prosperity for all in the region.

What can the countries of the IOR do to achieve Peace, Progress and Prosperity? Delegates from all the countries of the IOR and other concerned nations have been invited to present their views in the Indian Ocean Conference 2017 (IOC 2017), being organised by India Foundation with its partners in Colombo on 31st August – 2nd September 2017.

To view the conference brochure, click here. 

For more information, visit: http://www.indiafoundation.in/indian-ocean-conference-2017/

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2016 Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas Forum - Tangier Declaration

The Tangier Declaration: a boost for Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean.

Coming from 35 countries, over 300 key players involved in the marine environment met from 28 November to 1st December 2016 in Tangier, Morocco.

They released the Tangier declaration that will be used to update the 2020 Mediterranean MPA Roadmap elaborated at the 2012 MPA Forum in Antalya. This Roadmap aims to support the achievement of the international objective set by the Convention on Biological Diversity to protect 10% of the Mediterranean Sea through an effective network of MPAs by 2020 as well as climate change challenges and UN SDG 14.5.

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THE 2016 STATUS OF MARINE PROTECTED AREAS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN - MAIN FINDINGS

The aim of this brochure is to present a highlight of the 2016 assessment of where we stand with Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs) in the Me

diterranean, what progress has been made since the 2012 assessment and especially what is left to do to reach international marine conservation objectives by 2020.

In its last section, this document also explains what the terms MPAs and OECMs cover and the complexity of the whole array of designations in the Mediterranean at national, regional and international levels. MPA figures provided in this document come from the October 2016 release of MAPAMED, the database on Sites of interest for the conservation of the marine environment in the Mediterranean Sea, developed by MedPAN and UNEP/MAP-RAC/SPA. The core data found in MAPAMED has been validated by RAC/SPA national focal points.

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