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PHL commits to coastal conservation, sustainability

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The Philippines was one of 11 East Asian countries that pledged to advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the 7th East Asian Seas Ministerial Forum.

With the signing of the Preah Sihanouk Ministerial Declaration, the member countries endorsed the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) Roadmap to 2030 as the region’s strategic guide, in alignment with each country’s green recovery plans and international environmental commitments.

The Philippines is promoting policy coherence through a proposed integrated coastal management act, said Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, noting the government’s rehabilitation of Manila Bay and Boracay.

The act, he said, will support the country’s achievement of sustainable coastal ecosystems and thus reduce their vulnerability to climate change impacts.

“We need to enhance strategic partnerships through the mechanism PEMSEA provides,” Mr. Cimatu said in the forum. “PEMSEA offers a pathway for establishing meaningful partnerships and exclusive sharing across stakeholders and countries.”

The forum was hosted by the Royal Government of Cambodia and co-organized with PEMSEA. Government officials from Cambodia, China, North Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, the Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam delivered their respective country statements.

In its 2021 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that Southeast Asia is one of the planet’s most vulnerable regions to climate change.

The aforementioned declaration outlines these commitments:

Reaffirm and build on the region’s previous commitments in support of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA) implementation and key international agreements;
Recognize the impact and opportunities of the global pandemic;
Highlight the region’s progress through the PEMSEA partnership and PEMSEA’s key competencies;
Recognize the persistent and emerging challenges in the region and need for continuing regional cooperation and action;
Endorse the development of the PEMSEA Roadmap to 2030 and SDS-SEA Implementation Plan 2023-2027; and
Issue a call for action to build back better from the impacts of the global pandemic.

“We will be operationalizing the roadmap through a five-year cycle plan,” said Aimee T. Gonzales, PEMSEA executive director, at a press conference Dec. 2. “We are about to finish our implementation plan in 2022 and then commence the next five-year cycle.”

The key components of the roadmap, she said, includes effective governance through the improvement of policies to mainstream integrated coastal management, and engagement of local communities as effective stewards through the co-design of the programs on the ground.

“There’s an element of institution building, policy strengthening, and technical capacity building, particularly at the coastal communities who are the frontliners,” Ms. Gonzalez added. — Patricia B. Mirasol

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