Asia-Pacific is home to the most biologically diverse and productive marine ecosystems on Earth. From fisheries to marine-based tourism, our ocean is a vital source of livelihood, employment, nutrition and economic growth and is essential in balancing our climate. Marine and coastal ecosystems are the first line of defense from saltwater inundation and storms. Yet, rampant marine pollution, ocean acidification and warming, destructive fishing practices, unstainable trade and transport, and inadequate coastal and marine governance threaten the health of our ocean and its capacity to nurture sustainable development. Countries in Asia-Pacific are both major sources of ocean degradation and highly vulnerable to its impacts.
At the global level, Sustainable Development Goal 14 – Life below water – offers a framework on how countries can conserve and sustainably use the ocean, seas and marine resources for development. The United Nations Ocean Conference recently committed to halting and reversing the decline in the health and productivity of the ocean and its ecosystems and to protect and restore its resilience and ecological integrity. It also recognized that the well-being of present and future generations is inextricably linked to the health and productivity of the oceans; and stressed the importance of enhancing understanding of the health and role of the oceans, including through assessments on the state of the ocean, based on science and on traditional knowledge systems.
At the regional level, Resolution 72/9 called for greater cooperation, collaboration and coordination between sub-regions and regional organizations and requested ESCAP to undertake an assessment of capacity development needs of the countries in the region for implementing SDG 14. Responding to this request, ESCAP undertook this task to gain a better understanding of the capacity development needs in relation to SDG 14 in Asia and the Pacific and to help inform ESCAP’s work in this area. The results show that the region needs strengthening of technical capacity, coordination, governance, data and statistics, awareness, stakeholder engagement and partnerships.
Resolution 73/5 encourages member States to continue to enhance their capacity to sustainably manage oceans and requests ESCAP to support current and new regional partnerships for enhancing data and statistical capacities for SDG 14 in the region. ESCAP is already working towards strengthening statistical capacity to harmonize data, and piloting initiatives to collect evidence for action toward a healthy ocean.
The ESCAP Regional Road Map for Implementing the 2030 Agenda in Asia and the Pacific also encourages countries to cooperate in areas of sustainable development related to the management of natural resources including oceans and seas with a view to conserving the environment and enhancing the welfare of the community. Moreover, ESCAP submitted a voluntary commitment at the Ocean Conference for the establishment of an Ocean Accounts partnership for Asia-Pacific.
Tools and Methodologies
Accelerating implementation of SDG 14
Inadequate marine governance is threatening ocean and coastal ecosystems in our region. Countries with the greatest need have li‑le capacity to apply existing knowledge on the ocean in their policy decisions. ESCAP is developing a methodology to help prioritize needs, identify entry points to achieve SDG 14, and support follow-up and review processes.
Unplanned urbanization in island States threatens resilience, increases vulnerability and further degrades coastal and marine ecosystems. ESCAP is working with Pacific island States to design an ocean focused climate responsive policy guide for urban development. This approach bridges the gap between the built and natural environment to protect ocean-based livelihoods in island systems.
Closing the loop on plastic waste
Over half of global land-based plastic waste leakage into the ocean originates in just five Asian countries. Yet, the contribution of informal waste management to reducing pollution, remains largely overlooked. ESCAP is gathering evidence in pilot cities in Asia to identify opportunities to return plastic resources into the production cycle by linking informal and formal waste processes.
5DWMS provides a multi-dimensional global knowledge platform to collect and analyze ‘real time’ data on SDGs-related phenomena. The system integrates the analytical visualization of sensing data into a knowledge sharing with multimedia (images, videos, etc.), which helps community-based data sharing, awareness building and evidence-based decision making.