WESTPAC-XI session concluded with concrete actions


24 April 2017—The 11th Intergovernmental Session of the IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC-XI) concluded at 1700pm, 23 April 2017, Qingdao, China after three days deliberations to further enhance marine science development and cooperation in the region.

Close to 100 delegates and representatives from 15 Member States and partners in the region attended this biennial meeting on 21-23 April. The WESTPAC session is an intergovernmental meeting, aiming to bring together national competent governmental agencies and scientific communities, improve science-policy interface, advance international cooperation on marine science, observations and service, and to enhance institutional capacities to address critical challenges to sustainable development in the Western Pacific and its adjacent regions, particularly taking into account the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The meeting reviewed the recent strategic development of IOC in several international frameworks, including the UNESCO Program and Budget for 2018-2019, 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDG 14, Biological Diversity Beyond Areas of National Jurisdiction (BBNJ), and its proposed International Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2020-2030). The Sub-Commission deliberated on its role and further committed itself to the development and implementation of these frameworks in view of itself serving as a strategic link between IOC global objectives and national–level programmes and actions.


Upon examining its programmes, the Sub-Commission decided to take several immediate measures in order to further enhance the efficiency, effectiveness and visibility of its all programs which are structured around four thematic areas: (1) Understanding Ocean Processes and Climate in the Indo-Pacific; (2) Ensuring Marine Biodiversity, Food Safety and Security; (3) Maintenance of Ocean Health; and (4) Enhancing Knowledge of Cross-cutting and Emerging Issues.

The Sub-Commission emphasized the pivotal role of WESTPAC in the implementation of the IOC Capacity Development Strategy (2015-2021), and reiterated the importance of its “ inclusive, adaptive and self-driven” approach to capacity development in the region. The meeting witnessed with great pleasure a signing ceremony between UNESCO/IOC and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) concerning the establishment of a Regional Training and Research Center on Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health (RTRC-MarBEST). The Sub-Commission highly appreciated the Government of Indonesia for its strong commitment to enhancing national and regional capacity for marine biodiversity conservation and safeguarding ecosystem health.

In response to emergency issues in the region, the Sub-Commission decided to establish two new regional programmes, respectively on marine microplastics and harmful jelly fishes; and two regional working groups, respectively on ocean oxygen network (WESTPAC O2NE) and energy and materials exchange between land and open ocean in the Western Pacific marginal seas.

The Sub-Commission adopted its 10-million Programme and Budget for May 2017- May 2019, with understanding that the Programme and Budget was used mainly as guidance on the activities that Member States would like to jointly promote and seek funding from various sources in support of their implementation. Based on current information received, only US$ 80 K has been secured from the IOC Regular Budget for the period of 2018-2019. In this sense, it can be foreseen that almost all activities of the Sub-Commission from May 2017-May 2019 will have to be carried out via extrabudgetary support from Member States, either in-cash or in-kind.

The Sub-Commission elected, by acclamation, Dr Vo Si Tuan from Vietnam as Chairperson; Drs Fangli Qiao from China, Ken Ando from Japan, and Zainal Arifin from Indonesia as Vice-Chairpersons of the Sub-Commission for the next intersessional period. Finally, the Sub-Commission accepted the kind offers of Philippines and Indonesia to host the 12th Session in 2019 and 13th Session in 2021, respectively.

The WESTPAC-XI was convened immediately after the four-day 10th WESTPAC International Scientific Conference which attracted immense interests of marine scientists from within and outside the region. More than seven hundred participants from twenty-five countries participated in this largest marine science event in the region. The next WESTPAC International Scientific Conference has been scheduled for 2020, Indonesia.

Copyright 2013 © IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC)