The Sixth Ministerial Forum was held at Courtyard by Marriott, Iloilo City, Philippines on 29 November 2018. Carrying the theme, “25 Years of Partnerships for Healthy Oceans, People and Economies: Moving as One with the Global Ocean Agenda”, the Sixth Ministerial Forum was hosted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of the Philippines. Present in the forum were 11 Ministers and heads of delegations from the East Asian Countries, and about 50 observers from among the PEMSEA Non-Country Partners, together with members of PEMSEA’s East Asian Seas Partnership Council Executive Committee, representatives from PEMSEA’s sponsoring agencies, the GEF and UNDP, and some PEMSEA collaborators.
- The highlights of the Sixth Ministerial Forum, included:
- The presentation of the key results of the Regional and National State of Oceans and Coasts (SOC) reports on Blue Economy;
- Delivery of individual country statements highlighting countries’ outlook, plans and initiatives related to the implementation of the SDS-SEA in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals; and
- The signing of the Iloilo Ministerial Declaration on East Asian Region Moving as One for Healthy Oceans, People and Economies.
The Regional and National SOC Reports are key outputs of the PEMSEA member countries that looked into the countries’ ocean economy, ocean industries, valuation of coastal and marine ecosystem services, risks and pressures on oceans in the region, and examples of blue economy initiatives. The reports aim to provide the baseline for future assessments. Initial estimates show that the SOC provides a comprehensive approach to evaluate the contribution of oceans and coasts, impacts of human activity on the ocean, as well as monitor progress towards the SDGs, SDS-SEA, and other international agreements through the blue economy and ocean governance initiatives. Based on the reports, the oceans serve as an important source of income and jobs for countries in the EAS region, with significant share in countries’ GDP. While ocean’s ecosystem services are still not much valued in most countries, available information showed ocean as a natural capital represents 50-55% of ocean economy across the region. It is hoped that the SOC can be utilized as an important tool to advance scientific support, raise public awareness, promote good governance and partnerships for blue economy, and foster the development of synergies among the various sectors and stakeholders.
The Forum culminated with the signing of the Iloilo Ministerial Declaration on East Asian Region Moving as One for Healthy Oceans, People and Economies. The Declaration reaffirmed the countries’ ommitment to the SDS-SEA, and in particular to achieving the remaining targets from the Da Nang Compact, regular updating of SOC reports, reducing or preventing marine pollution of all kinds, promotion of sustainable coastal tourism programs, support development of blue economy investment projects, and support operations of PRF as coordinating mechanism for SDS-SEA implementation through voluntary contributions beyond 2019.