On 14 and 15 November the 1st WESTPAC Marine Spatial Planning Expert Workshop took place in Qingdao, China to push forward the implementation of the UN Ocean Decade Action 21 “Accelerate Marine Spatial Planning in the Western Pacific” with the support of MSPglobal 2.0.
The two-day workshop brought together the MSP Group of Experts which was established in April 2023 to provide guidance for MSP activities in the Western Pacific and its Adjacent Areas (WESTPAC). As Wenxi Zhu, Head of IOC Sub Commission WESTPAC, said in his opening remarks, the goal of the workshop was to share knowledge and brainstorm a way forward to promote marine spatial planning, in particular the implementation of the UN Ocean Decade Action 21. Zhu highlighted that it would be a country-driven process resulting in the development of a regional MSProadmap with concrete actions to be submitted to the next WESTPAC Intergovernmental Session in 2025.
Opening remarks were also given by the two hosts of the workshop, the China Oceanic Development Foundation and the First Institute of Oceanography. Both emphasized China’s cooperative actions on MSP to protect the ecosystem and biodiversity while promoting sustainable development.
To further concretize the implementation of the UN Ocean Decade Action 21, the joint IOC/UNESCO and European Commission MSProadmap was presented to lay out how the MSPglobal 2.0 initiative will provide support. More specifically, the project will execute the MSPglobal Rapid Assessment Methodology in two countries. Besides, the initiative will also organize four trainings using the MSP Challenge board game which the participants were happy to play themselves during the workshop as you can see in the right picture above.
In one of the most diverse and enlightening sessions, several countries from the region reported their MSP status, beginning with South Korea followed by Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, China, and Pacific Island countries.
All in all, the workshop stood out for the hands-on approach in many brainstorming sessions which allowed participants to break out into discussions to formulate concrete next steps. The Group of Experts will meet regularly online to refine the priority topics and actions, and then meet again in person in November 2024 to review the action progress and finalise the draft regional MSProadmap.
One of the highlights of the workshop was the poetic definition of marine spatial planning by Suharyanto (Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Indonesia), which serves best as the last words for this article:
“Let’s think of our ocean with a vision for tomorrow […]
A deep sense of duty and a responsibility profound
A strong concern to keep ocean dreams safe and sound
It is our generation’s task to work together”
For more impressions of the workshop, you can scroll through the event’s photo gallery.
MSPglobal is a joint initiative by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC/UNESCO) and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) to develop and implement international guidelines on Marine/Maritime Spatial Planning.
Article originally published here.