On August 16, 2023, jointly hosted by China Oceanic Development Foundation (CODF) and Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF), and organized by Fujian Institute of Oceanology (FJIO), the Seminar on Marine Spatial Planning Technology and Marine Economic Sustainable Development for Pacific Island Countries kicks off in Tonga. Twelve trainees from Tonga Prime Minister’s Office, Tonga Health Foundation, Tonga Tapu 5 Office, Ministry of Infrastructure of Tonga, Ministry of MEIDECC of Tonga, Tonga Mo’unga’Olive College, participated in this seminar. Pan Xinchun, Vice President and Secretary-General of CODF, delivered a video speech at the opening ceremony. The seminar will be held in Tonga, Vanuatu and Fiji, consisting of on-site teaching and field research over a period of three weeks. Many experts on marine spatial planning from First Institute of Oceanography (FIO) of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), Second Institute of Oceanography (SIO) of the Ministry of Natural Resources, National Marine Data and Information Service, National Ocean Technology Center (NOTC), Island Research Center of the Ministry of Natural Resources, China Communications Construction Co., Ltd, CCCC Water Transportion Consultants Co., LTD., FJIO, etc., were invited to give lectures.
A group photo of some lecturers and trainees
The seminar site
Some of the lecturers visiting Department of Climate Change, Ministry of MEIDECC, Tonga
In his speech, Pan Xinchun, on behalf of CODF, firstly extended warm congratulations on the opening of the seminar, a warm welcome to all the trainees, and sincere thanks to all the lecturers.
He said the friendship between China and Pacific island countries has a long history and spans mountains and oceans. China and Pacific island countries not only share the same ancestor and language origin, but also have increasingly frequent exchanges since modern times. In 2014 and 2018, the Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the Pacific island countries, and held group meetings with leaders of Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and other island countries that have established diplomatic ties. These meetings jointly mapped out development blueprints to elevate the relations between China and Pacific island countries to a comprehensive strategic partnership based on mutual respect and common development. The Belt and Road cooperation between China and Pacific island countries has not only brought tangible benefits to the people in the region, but also set a good example for South-South cooperation.
He said that since its establishment in 2015, CODF has carried out cooperation with Pacific island countries in marine spatial planning, blue economy development, marine environmental protection and other fields, focusing on the implementation of major projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative, global ocean governance, building blue partnerships, and high-quality marine economic development, and actively built blue partnerships.
He introduced that since 2018, CODF has implemented the Maritime Silk Road program “Promoting Marine spatial planning, Boosting Blue Economy Development” to promote the high-quality marine economic development of countries along the Maritime Silk Road. Up to now, CODF has signed cooperation agreements on Maritime Silk Road projects with 18 countries, including Fiji, Thailand, Bangladesh and Seychelles, and completed the first drafts of regional spatial plans for more than 10 countries. More than 100 special reports on industrial layout and blue economy development, marine ecological protection area construction, marine biodiversity protection, and national policies of 18 countries have been conducted, more than 2,000 management and technical personnel have been trained, and more than 500 Chinese and foreign government departments, research institutions, international organizations, and enterprises have participated in this project. In 2021, in order to implement the Maritime Silk Road program CODF and relevant international organizations jointly organized 12 international activities. For example, the Seminar on Marine Spatial Planning and Blue Economy Development of Maritime Silk Road Countries and Small Island States, the Workshop on Sustainable Oceans, the International Island Forum, the Symposium on Global Maritime Cooperation and Ocean Governance, and the International Forum on Marine Spatial Planning were attended by more than 20,000 people from more than 100 countries. CODF's "Maritime Silk Road" program has also been approved by the United Nations to be included in the "Ocean Decade" action.
He said that after CODF and the Pacific Islands Development Forum signed the cooperation agreement on the "Maritime Silk Road" program in 2019, it took the lead in the implementation of the "Maritime Silk Road" program in Fiji. The specific work was undertaken by the CCCC Water Transportion Consultants Co., LTD., and solid work has been carried out in planning, industrial layout, personnel training, and enterprise settlement, and phased results have been achieved. In May 2023, CODF met with Tonga Princess Piloleiu Tuita, Permanent Patron and Board Chairperson of the Pacific China Friendship Association and her delegation in Beijing. The two sides reached consensus and signed a memorandum of understanding on how marine spatial planning can contribute to the development of the blue economy in the South Pacific.
He emphasized that in the future, CODF and Pacific island countries will continue to work together in the following three areas:
First, strengthen the implementation of the "Maritime Silk Road" program in the Pacific island states, organize Chinese enterprises to cooperate with Pacific island states to invest in marine tourism and culture, marine ports and transportation, marine fisheries and pearl farming, commercial trade and infrastructure, and promote the development of the blue economy of the Pacific island states. Meanwhile, two sides should continue to deepen practical cooperation in marine spatial planning, marine ecological environment protection, marine resources development and utilization, marine disaster reduction and prevention, and marine personnel training.
Second, sum up Fiji's experience in the Maritime Silk Road program, continue to promote it to other Pacific small island states, and implement the Maritime Silk Road program in other member states to help their blue economic development.
Third, make full use of the cooperation on the Maritime Silk Road program and its existing mechanisms to expand and deepen maritime, economic and trade cooperation and people exchanges between China and Pacific island states. Make full use of the talent and resource advantages of CODF, mobilize and organize marine enterprises in China and the world to visit the South Pacific region for exchange, investment and business development, and promote the rapid economic and social development of Pacific island states.
He said that CODF is willing to carry out practical cooperation with Pacific island states on blue economy development, marine environmental protection, marine disaster reduction and prevention, and marine scientific research. CODF hopes that the "Seminar on Marine Spatial Planning Technology and Marine Economic Sustainable Development for Pacific Island Countries" can serve as a bridge to continue to strengthen multilateral ties, constantly consolidate multilateral friendship and continue close multilateral cooperation.
Zhang Zhiwei, Senior Engineer of FIO; Lou Xiulin, Senior Engineer of SIO; Yu Fan, Senior Engineer of Island Research Center of MNR; Liu Yulong, Senior Engineer of CCCC Water Transportion Consultants Co., LTD; Li Siguang, Deputy Director of FJIO; Project Manager Wang Xiaoqin, Zhang Liyan and Guan Ying from FJIO attended the opening ceremony of the seminar.