ACB joins first ASEAN-Seychelles high-level forum on ocean sustainability

DUBAI — With the commonalities among oceanic states and regions with islands––from the abundant resources from shore to sea to risks and threats, stronger cooperation is crucial.

At the first-ever high-level forum on ocean sustainability held on 10 December and organised by the ASEAN Secretariat and the Republic of Seychelles on the sidelines of the Expo 2020 Dubai, ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) Executive Director Theresa Mundita Lim explained the many similarities that island ecosystems across the world share.

“With increasing climate risks and multiple challenges that we are facing today, moving towards stronger cooperation among island nations and regions with islands, which have a lot in common, is logical,” she said.

Nine ASEAN Member States have coastal areas, and all 10 have vital river systems and waterways that drain into the sea. The ASEAN peoples depend on these coastal and marine ecosystems for food, livelihood, commerce, and transportation, among others.

Like Seychelles, one of the pioneers of blue economy, the ASEAN region exports products derived from marine sources.

ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi opened the forum on 10 October 2021, which was attended by dignitaries and business officials.

“I would like to emphasise the importance of sustainability to ensure socio-economic development is compatible with the health of our oceans. As we all know, the overall economic potential of the oceans – including all ocean-based economic activities that use both inputs from, as well as outputs for, the oceans – is huge,” Jock Hoi said.

Dotted with more than 28,000 islands, collectively, the region’s coastal and marine habitats are home to 34 per cent of the world’s coral reefs, with over 600 species of hard corals and over 1,300 reef-associated fish species. The region also contains 51 of the world’s 70 mangrove species and 23 of the 50 seagrass species, the ACB said.

Former President of Seychelles James Michel, the executive chairman of the James Michel Foundation told the meeting the initiatives that Seychelles has undertaken in advancing blue economy. 

“Seychelles has already achieved 30 percent protection of its ocean space and has committed to do even more in the years to come. This is a major achievement. Through our collaboration, the Seychelles’ model can be shared and adapted to convert the marine protected areas in ASEAN to become sources of finance to help the development of fishing communities, local tourism and conservation supported by capacity building to empower coastal communities to care for their waterfronts as their lifetime assets,” Michel said.

Viet Nam