By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The Philippines will be hosting a regional conference that aims to address ocean and coastal area degradation through the sustainable management and use of marine resources, seas and oceans, amid government efforts to address the pollution and overdevelopment in Boracay Island.
The East Asian Sea (EAS) Congress is slated November 23 to 27 at the Iloilo International Convention Center, with the theme: “25 years of Partnership for Healthy Oceans, People and Economies: Moving as One with the Global Ocean Agenda.”
The event is being co-organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Partnerships in Environmental Management of the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA).
“True to its commitment to conserve and protect the marine and coastal resources of the country and the region, the Philippines is honored to host the East Asian Seas (EAS) Congress 2018 through the DENR and the Provincial Government of Iloilo,” DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said.
He said the country was looking forward to a “very dynamic exchange of knowledge, commitments to partnerships and joint action among all participants” to the regional meeting.
Cimatu said the issue of protecting the ocean’s health has brought deeper meaning to the country with the closure of Boracay to pave the way for its rehabilitation from environmental degradation.
“Boracay is a case in point of how neglect and blatant disregard of environmental laws lead to destruction of our land and seas and all the natural resources and biodiversity in them,” Cimatu pointed out.
The 2018 EAS Congress seeks to align the implementation of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the SEA and other sub-regional and regional strategies and action plans with Sustainable Development Goal No. 14 on life below water, which targets the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, seas and oceans.
The conference draws from the commitments and calls for action of last year’s United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference held in New York where 193 countries unanimously agreed on measures to reverse the decline of ocean’s health.
One of the calls for action is the implementation of strategies to reduce the use of plastic bags and single-use plastic.