By Ellalyn de Vera-Ruiz
Around 900 participants, mainly environment ministers, marine experts, ocean advocates, regional partners and other stakeholders, from Asia, Europe, North America and Australia are expected to join the East Asian Seas (EAS) Congress 2018 to be held in Iloilo City this week.
The conference will be held on Nov. 27-30 at the Iloilo International Convention Center.
The EAS Congress aims to build on the commitments under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals where East Asian countries play a crucial role in meeting the global ocean agenda that is Goal No. 14 or Life Below Water, which targets the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, seas and oceans.
Organizers of the event—the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Partnerships in Environmental Management for Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA)—said delegates from government agencies, civil society, academe, business, nongovernment organizations, international agencies, and funding institutions have confirmed their attendance to the conference.
They said around 63 percent or majority of the participants are foreign delegates from PEMSEA partner countries Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, North Korea, Laos, South Korea, Singapore, Timor Leste and Vietnam; and nonmember countries Malaysia, Thailand, United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, France and Australia.
The rest of the participants or around 37 percent are local delegates, they added.
Ministers, vice ministers, director generals and other senior government officials from the 11 PEMSEA partner nations are attending the EAS Congress in full force.
The highlight of the conference is the 6th Ministerial Forum where PEMSEA member countries are expected to come up with the “Iloilo Ministerial Declaration on East Asian Region, Moving as One to Secure Healthy Oceans, People and Economies.”
PEMSEA, whose headquarters is located at the DENR central office in Quezon City, is an intergovernmental organization operating in East Asia to foster and sustain healthy and resilient oceans, coasts, communities and economies across the region.
This year’s EAS Congress is also a celebration of 25 years of partnerships for healthy oceans, people and economies.
The four-day conference will feature interactive sessions and dialogues called “Ocean Talk and Sea Exchange,” the PEMSEA Network of Local Governments Forum, and presentation of regional and national State of Oceans and Coasts Reports.
There will also be “Partnership Hub” sessions focusing on different aspects of ocean management. Among the issues to be discussed are Climate and Blue Carbon, Marine Pollution and Clean Water, Biodiversity and Coastal Management, Governance and Partnerships, Research and Tools, Ocean Industry and Finance, and Blue Economy.
The youth delegates from PEMSEA member countries, as well as Thailand and Malaysia, will have their own forum on coastal and ocean sustainability.