East Asian Seas



East Asian Seas Action Plan
Action Plan: The East Asian Seas Action Plan developed a systematic approach in delivering a ten year plan to pragmatically co-ordinate the management, conservation, restoration and sustainable use of the marine environment of the East Asian seas. The planned activities, taking into account the Regional Action Plan for the Global Programme of Action for land-based activities, the UNEP/GEF Project "Reversing Environmental Degradation Trends in the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand" and the International Coral Reef Action Network, will provide effective means for implementing and ensuring maximum benefits to the member countries. The East Asian Seas Action Plan is geared towards co-operation with non-government and government organizations and the private sector to achieve its objectives.

COBSEA • EAS/RCU: The Regional Co-ordinating Unit (EAS/RCU) serves as Secretariat for COBSEA (the co-ordinating body of the East Asian Seas Action Plan), and is the lead agency of the United Nations for marine environmental matters in East Asia, responsible for co-ordinating the activities of governments, NGOs, UN and donor agencies, and individuals in caring for the region's marine environment. Recently the RCU has revised the Action Plan to include monitoring and environmental assessment, technology transfer, and environmental governance, worked with UNEP/GPA to address pollution from land-based activities and prepared a transboundary diagnostic analysis of the South China Sea.

Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia
The development of a Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia was initiated and prepared by PEMSEA in consultation with 12 participating Governments (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Putrajaya Declaration on Regional Co-operation for Sustainable Development of the Seas of East Asia and the Strategy were adopted during a Ministerial Forum held in December 2003.

Previous efforts of countries and international agencies to arrest environmental degradation in the Seas of East Asia have fallen short of tangible and lasting benefits to the environment and to the quality of life of the people of the region. The Sustainable Development Strategy is the document that expresses the shared vision of the countries and other stakeholders for the Seas of East Asia, and the way by which they will achieve that shared vision. It provides principles and guidelines for action to address issues and problems in the region. The document does not reflect any individual country or sectoral interest but presents a regional perspective in addressing common issues and concerns. The Sustainable Development Strategy offers a integrated approach to environmental management, based on:

  • functional partnerships among governments, international agencies, civil society and the private sector;
  • inter-linkages between multilateral environmental agreements, regional programmes of action, national policies and programmes and local operational activities;
  • synergies that exist naturally within the global environment; and
  • improved coastal and ocean governance as part of sustainable development policy.

Concerning shipping and oil pollution it is stated in the Declaration that the Strategy will facilitate synergistic actions to enhance maritime safety and protection of the marine environment from pollution and environmental damage caused by ships, including the introduction of alien invasive species, and oil and chemical pollution preparedness and response.

GEF International Waters Project
The significant (32 million USD) GEF Project on Reversing Environmental Degradation Trends in the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand, implemented by UNEP, represents the first attempt to develop regionally co-ordinated programmes of action designed to reverse environmental degradation particularly in the area of coastal habitat degradation and loss, halt land-based pollution and address the issue of fisheries over-exploitation. The basis for the project is the Reducing Environmental Stress in the Yellow Sea Large Marine Ecosystem. The Yellow Sea is one of the most intensely exploited areas in the world. This Sea is a semi-enclosed basin, shallow but rich in resources, and its waters are a highway for international shipping. Large cities, among them Shanghai, Dalian, Tianjin and Seoul, depend on the Yellow Sea as a source of marine resources for human nutrition, economic development, recreation and tourism. The analysis conducted indicated the following major transboundary environmental problems: (i) Decline/collapse of transboundary fish stocks; (ii) degradation of Biodiversity and of critical habitats; (iii) water quality deterioration; (iv) unsanitary conditions due to dispersion of pathogens and contaminants threatening human health and mariculture. The objective of the proposed project is to promote multi-country ecosystem based management practices with the aim of reducing stresses to the environment due to population and industrialization pressures. The project will enhance consultations among littoral countries building on existing partial agreements (APEC etc.) and operationalizing elements of UNEP's Regional Seas Programme (NOWPAP). The project will complement activities of the East Asian Seas GEF project.

Partnership in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia
Partnership in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) is a GEF funded project, focusing on "building partnerships within and among governments of the region, as well as across public and private sectors of the economy. The goal is to reduce or remove barriers to effective environmental management, including inadequate or inappropriate policies, disparate institutional and technical capabilities and limited investment in environmental facilities and services". PEMSEA is "based on two management frameworks developed and tested in an earlier GEF Project: Integrated coastal management, addressing land-water interactions and the impacts of human activity in coastal areas; and risk assessment/risk management, applying to subregional sea areas and the impacts of human activities on marine ecosystems." PEMSEA web resources include Virtual ICM; a Legal Information Database Reference Catalogue; and a Directory of Research and Management Institutions in Southeast Asia, and a database of Good Practices.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established in 1967 and has ten member countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. The ASEAN Declaration states that the aims and purposes of the Association are: to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavours in the spirit of equality and partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian nations, and to promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries in the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter. In 1995, the ASEAN Heads of States and Government re-affirmed that "Cooperative peace and shared prosperity shall be the fundamental goals of ASEAN." See also

Tokyo Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control
Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control for the Asia and Pacific Region (Tokyo MoU) According to the MoU each Authority will establish and maintain an effective system of Port State Control with a view of ensuring that, without discrimination as to flag, foreign merchant ships visiting the ports of its State comply with the standards laid down in the relevant international instruments.

UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Working closely with the Division of Regional Co-operation and Representation in UNEP's Nairobi-based headquarters, the UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) looks to adopt global environmental policy to regional priorities and needs. It acts as a catalyst, co-ordinator, facilitator and mobilizer of resources. It puts particular emphasis on building partnerships with regional and sub-regional intergovernmental fora, other UN agencies, national governments, NGOs, the private sector, academic and research institutions, and civil society, and the media.

UNEP Regional Resource Centre for Asia and the Pacific
In Asia and the Pacific Region, UNEP's Division of Early Warning and Assessment (DEWA) is implemented through the facility of UNEP Regional Resource Centre for Asia and Pacific (RRC.AP) situated within the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Bangkok, Thailand. UNEP RRC.AP was initially established in 1989 as a GRID facility, which was later expanded, to encompass DEWA activities. There are three components in the programme: (i) Capacity Building and Servicing, (ii) Data Management, and (iii) Assessment and Reporting. Assessment reports and Early Warning Systems are being developed through these three components. At present, RRC.AP is focusing on four early warning issues based on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee: GLOF, Water, Land Cover and Air. Activities have been carried out under the direct supervision of the DEWA, in close coordination with UNEP's Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP).

UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) organizes seminars and workshops on various issues relating to water resources, including: Water resources assessment; Integrated water resources development and management; Protection of water resources, water quality and aquatic ecosystems; River basin development and management; Promotion of infrastructure development and investment for drinking water supply and sanitation; Water pricing and promotion of private investment in the water sector; Water demand management, water saving and economic use of water; and Mitigation of water-related natural disasters, particularly flood loss reduction.