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Exploring New Pathways for Global Ocean Governance -Contributing to the Ocean Decade through Maritime Silk Road Project
date:2022-07-18   from:CODF   author:Original

Recently, China Oceanic Development Foundation (CODF), the First Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Natural Resources, P.R. China (FIO), Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (UNESCO-IOC/WESTPAC) etc. jointly prepared and applied the Plan of Action for International Cooperation on “Accelerate Marine Spatial Planning in the Western Pacific and its Adjacent Areas”, which has been successfully included in the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) (Ocean Decade) with the approval of UNESCO-IOC.

The approved Action Plan includes “Advancing Blue Economy, Through Marine Spatial Planning” Maritime Silk Road Project being implemented by CODF. According to the characteristics of marine ecological environment, space resource endowment, social and economic condition, and the requirement for protection, development and utilization in the western Pacific and its adjacent regions, this Action Plan is aiming to build technologies for the compilation of Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) oriented to the region, carry out MSP pilot compilation and MSP discovery from the perspective of large marine ecosystems, and play a leading role in the MSP formulation and implementation of relevant countries. At the same time, the Project also focuses on promoting the regional MSP capacity building, strengthening the integrated development of industry, university and research institute, improving the regional MSP compilation capacity, and shaping a new model of regional MSP and sustainable ocean governance.

Deeply involving in the Ocean Decade, building a mutually beneficial blue partnership

Zhu Wenxi, Director of UNESCO-IOC/WESTPAC, said MSP is an important support for the sustainable development of the marine economy. Its inclusion in the "Oceans Decade" program is of overall and long-term significance to the Western Pacific region and will contribute to the implementation of the Global MSP 2030.、

According to Pan Xinchun, Vice President and Secretary General of CODF, the "Maritime Silk Road Project" is being implemented in 18 countries from Africa, Asia, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, South America and other regions and has achieved initial results. Currently, CODF is also carrying out other projects such as "Research on Sustainable Development Indicator System of Countries along the Maritime Silk Road in service of the Belt and Road" and "RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) Think Tank Alliance". It is actively and deeply involved in the "Ocean Decade" programs.

In 2017, the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring the period 2021-2030 as the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, and authorized UNESCO/IOC to take the lead in formulating an implementation plan. In January 2021, the "Ocean Decade" officially launched, and its vision is "the science we need for the ocean we want". It aims to promote the formation of transformative scientific solutions, promote the sustainable development and connect mankind and the ocean. This is an important decision of the United Nations to promote marine sustainable development and the most important global ocean science initiative in the next decade, which will have a profound impact on the development of ocean science and global ocean governance.

In December 2018, CODF began to build the Marine Spatial Planning Academy (MSPA) as an open cooperation platform, which is composed of 14 member institutions from national research institutes, universities and enterprises. In recent years, this open cooperation platform of MSPA has actively implemented the "Maritime Silk Road Project "in countries along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and island countries, and achieved fruitful results.

"Promoting international cooperation on MSP is of great significance to the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, the building of maritime community with a shared future, the development of blue partnerships, and China's participation in global ocean governance." "At the same time, research on major issues in China's current MSP will have an important impact on establishing China's territorial space planning system and promoting the rational use and sustainable development of marine resources," Pan Xinchun said.

The MSP domestic research program of CODF focuses on the focal and difficult issues in the current MSP and use regulation. International cooperation project fully combines with the actual demand of developing countries along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and focuses on local primary problems in marine economic and social development on the premise of governments support. Through the establishment and implementation of regional MSP and the pragmatic and efficient cooperation programs for the countries along 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, our project will promote China's connection and cooperation with relevant countries and play a substantial role in promoting the construction of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

"Next Step, we will continue to work on the MSP formulation. Through the MSP formulation, marine industries will be arranged in the sea areas and coastal zones of the cooperative countries, the development of coastal towns and marine ecological protection will be promoted, the economic and social green development of the cooperative countries will be accelerated, and the construction of ocean governance system and the improvement of marine governance capacity will be elevated." Pan Xinchun said.

Pan Xinchun said that in the future, CODF will take the opportunity of being included in the "Ocean Decade" program to conduct cooperation with relevant countries on ocean governance capacity building, including the protection of marine ecosystems and biodiversity, and joint research on climate change.

"China has made great achievements in the concept and practice of MSP. We are willing to provide personnel and technical assistance to coastal states, contribute to the formulation, implementation and evaluation of MSP, enhance the sharing of achievements, achieve common development, strengthen all-round practical cooperation with other countries in the field of ocean research, and establish a blue partnership that is open, inclusive, concrete, pragmatic and mutually beneficial." Said Pan Xinchun.

Exploring new pathways for ocean governance, contributing to the building of a maritime community with a shared future

MSP is a process of analyzing and distributing the spatial and temporal distribution of human marine activities based on the ecosystem method, so as to coordinate the needs of ecological environment protection and sea use activities and achieve sustainable development goals. It is an important starting point for coastal countries to carry out marine space governance, optimize resource allocation and promote the development of blue economy.

Zhang Zhiwei, Member of the UNESCO MSP Global 2030 Expert Committee and Deputy Director of the Research Center for Coastal Science and Ocean Development Strategy at FIO, said that currently, he and his team are working with researchers from institutions in Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Papua New Guinea and other countries to cooperate in the elaboration of the MSP implementation plan for the Western Pacific Region and to launch the preparatory work for the Conference.

MSP is an internationally recognized management tool for marine sustainable development, and it is also an area in which China has advanced technology and rich experience. Zhang Zhiwei introduced that FIO has long been committed to the research and practice of ecosystem-based MSP technology, and has undertaken multi-level MSP pilot tasks in Guangdong, Shandong and Qingdao. At the same time, FIO has cooperated with Thailand, The Republic of Korea, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Madagascar and other countries in the MSP research and formulation. China's experience has been introduced and promoted under various international cooperation frameworks related to ASEAN countries, and has been successfully applied to Koh Lan Island in Thailand. A series of work measures have become "accelerators" for deepening cooperation between the two sides, providing useful experience for China to carry out international cooperation in MSP.

In 2021, the assessment of the implementation status of East Asian MSP carried out by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA) showed that the unbalanced development of regional MSP and the urgent need to strengthen capacity building still exist. In this context, it is necessary to strengthen international cooperation in the field of MSP and accelerate the implementation of MSP projects in the Western Pacific and adjacent regions. Zhang zhiwei said that there is still a long way for China's MSP technology to go abroad and enter the world. With the deepening of cooperation with other countries, China will have more experience and confidence in international cooperation in MSP.

International cooperation in MSP with coastal countries will help us reflect on the overall planning of ecological environmental protection and industrial development at different stages of development. It is also an important starting point for China to deeply participate in global ocean governance, and will lay a foundation for China to implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals." Zhang zhiwei said.

"Going forward, we will continue to take international cooperation in MSP as an important focus, further strengthen the sharing of results, achieve common development, continue to carry out useful practices in MSP system, actively explore new pathways for coastal developing countries to govern the ocean, and contribute to the building of a maritime community with a shared future." Zhang zhiwei said.