2nd UN Ocean Decade Regional Conference &
11th WESTPAC International Marine Science Conference
“Accelerating Ocean Science Solutions for Sustainable Development”
Bangkok, Thailand, 22 – 25 April 2024
The Decade Action Incubator serves as an interactive forum to catalyze partnerships, strengthen dialogue from ocean knowledge generators to knowledge users, initiate co-designing processes, and facilitate the development of potential Decade programmes or projects. Each Incubator will run for a period of no longer than three hours.
The proposed Decade Action Incubator shall address one or more of the seven Ocean Decade Outcomes: a clean ocean, a healthy and resilient ocean, a productive ocean, a predicted ocean, a safe ocean, a transparent and accessible ocean, and an inspiring and engaging ocean.
The incubator will be organized by the IOC/WESTPAC Citizen Science Working Group that aims to share the best practices, success stories, and experiences of citizen science projects implemented around the region.
The incubator will first introduce the vision and objectives of the working group to establish regional wide citizen science projects across the Western Pacific. Two invited speakers ECOP speakers will share their experiences in establishing, sustaining and expanding their citizen science projects. A moderated discussion with the invited speakers and participants to establish a shared-vision and potential of replicating the success regionally. At the end of the incubator, the working group hopes to grow its members towards other member states in Western Pacific and work towards a dedicated Decade project for implementation.
Blue carbon ecosystems — mangroves, seagrasses and tidal marshes — play an important role in the carbon cycle and support food security and livelihoods, including by supporting fisheries and tourism. They absorb and sequester carbon dioxide, so they also have an important role in climate change mitigation. They also offer potential solutions to help coastal communities adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change. Ecosystem-based adaptation, including integration of natural ecosystems with other adaptation actions like seawalls, can provide resilience against rising sea levels and natural disasters, while also providing additional benefits. Effective management of these ecosystems permits multiple development goals to be covered through a single policy framework that integrates blue economic growth, environmental sustainability and social inclusiveness.
This incubator aims to address multiple Ocean Decade challenges. We need a sound evidence base on which to build a portfolio of solutions that can be implemented in different social and physical contexts. There are multiple organisations engaged in the broad nature-based solutions initiative across South East Asia, including governments, not-for-profit enterprises, multilateral finance institutions and the private sector. We will seek to engage with these sectors. The conversations will encompass the variety of roles, from implementation to finance. It is envisaged that the event will provide a platform to build upon in a subsequent IORA Blue Carbon Hub event that is being planning for Thailand in 2024, which will focus on nature finance.
Although ocean deoxygenation is understood to result in the loss of fish habitat, the death of corals, and changes in biogeochemical cycles, documenting the effects of these deoxygenation-induced changes on human welfare has been difficult. The difficulty of identifying clear, substantial connections to livelihoods and well-being impedes the full inclusion of the ecological problem of ocean deoxygenation in policy priorities that emphasize human welfare. The UN Decade for Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and its UN Sustainable Development Goals increases the urgency of gaining information on the links between human welfare and deoxygenation so that the issue of deoxygenation can be fully integrated into these efforts, and into adaptation and mitigation of ocean change strategies in general. A major gap in our understanding of the effects of ocean deoxygenation on human livelihoods and well-being is the effect (or the lack of effects) of deoxygenation on local small-scale fisheries, aquaculture, and bivalve fisheries. Identification of this information is especially critical for coastal communities that are dependent on local aquatic resources and cannot relocate fishing and aquaculture operations to less vulnerable, more highly oxygenated waters.
This incubator aims to increase understanding of the effects of deoxygenation on human livelihoods and welfare, including subsistence and small-scale fisheries, aquaculture, and bivalve fisheries, as well as larger fishing fleets. We will also enhance the review and synthesis of the better-known catch and economic effects of deoxygenation in fisheries in Europe and North America by adding bivalve fisheries and aquaculture to the results of existing syntheses (e.g., Breitburg et al., 2009; Rose et al., 2019). The transformative nature of this action lies in its integration of both natural and social sciences to better gauge the real-world implications of deoxygenation. This multidisciplinary, solution-oriented approach will provide actionable insights that can inform policy decisions. Engaging a diverse set of stakeholders – from researchers and fisheries managers to local agencies in developing nations – ensures a holistic understanding of the issue. Moreover, by emphasizing inclusivity, we will bring voices often overshadowed in global discussions to the forefront. This approach aligns with the Ocean Decade’s challenge of capacity development and knowledge sharing, stakeholder engagement, and promotes diversity and equity.
Natural coastal ecosystems are a critical part of the survival and sustenance of coastal communities, as they provide food security, coastal protection, and other indispensable ecosystem services. But coastal ecosystems in the Western Pacific are increasingly threatened by multiple stressors, including climate change and ocean acidification, ocean hypoxia, eutrophication, sea-level rise, and other additional stressors such as pollution and unregulated local coastal development.
Traditional approaches of focusing on particular stressors without considering the overall spectrum of stressors on coastal ecosystems have been found to be wanting. A new approach that looks at the whole range of stressors on coastal ecosystems and engages the local stakeholders in developing solutions are needed.
This incubator aims to understand the impacts of multiple stressors on natural ecosystems and coastal communities; explore and share the multidisciplinary approaches, findings, and practices on the research and monitoring of multiple stressors and their impacts in the coast; and develop a regional network to advance multidisciplinary research and engagement with coastal communities and provide workable science-based solutions to benefit people, nature, and livelihoods.
This effort would require a multidisciplinary team with a broad knowledge base and understanding of the needs and capabilities of their respective local communities. Understandably, these may not be available to the team at the onset of the project, but there are possibilities of engaging new partners and sharing resources. We would like to hear the views and recommendations from the member IOC/WESTPAC countries and, if possible, suggest options for demonstration sites. We would invite a resource speaker who is experienced in working on integrated ecosystem approaches on marine issues to contribute to our discussion. Member countries have had different levels of success (and failures) in addressing issues related to ecosystem protection. This platform will provide an opportunity for members to synergize future efforts to promote and protect coastal ecosystems and provide a sustainable future to coastal communities.
The ocean is the largest and most important ecological environment on the Earth. However, coastal reclamation, water pollution, plastic waste, and climate change have been exerting serious impacts on marine ecosystems. In order to maintain a healthy marine ecosystem, it is necessary to accurately assess the current situation and deploy effective conservation and restoration efforts. Remote sensing is an important tool for filling in critical information gaps for mapping and monitoring coastal ecosystems, yet significant barriers exist for operational use within the ecological and conservation communities. The recent advance of remote sensing technology and free access to high-resolution RS imagines open up new opportunities to apply remote sensing to coastal ecosystem monitoring, not only for research, but more importantly for conservation and management.
This incubator will share several application cases on coastal ecosystem monitoring, analyze technological limitations and knowledge gaps between research and conservation, and aims to explore how to advance RS technology and its applications and thus generate solutions to coastal ecosystem conservation.
Coastal eutrophication, the excessive enrichment of coastal waters with nutrients, is one of the major drivers of harmful algal blooms (HABs). HABs are overgrowths of phytoplankton that can cause devastating effects on human health and marine ecosystems, including fish, shellfish, and other aquatic resources. The occurrence, intensity, and adverse impacts of HABs are increasing in coastal regions and marginal seas. Moreover, global warming, which results in the stratification of water columns, is expected to expand the habitat for HAB species and thus leads to more frequent and widespread HAB outbreaks in the future.
To effectively manage eutrophication and HABs (EuHABs), we need a diverse range of decision-support tools, including molecular tools, remote sensing techniques, and numerical models.
This incubator will engage stakeholders who are concerned about and impacted by EuHABs. These stakeholders include researchers, local governments, fisheries industries, and fishery-related agencies. Within 3 hours, the incubator will be organized into 3 sessions—remote sensing, numerical modeling, and gaps and challenges.
Monitoring coral reef status and trends is important for informing policy and managing coral reef ecosystems, especially when national authorities consider increasing marine protected areas(MPAs) and evaluate their management effectiveness. Thailand initiated the preparation of coral reef monitoring guidelines for managing marine protected areas in the region at a workshop durings the 7th National Marine Science Conference in 2022 and consultations with coral reef experts in the region.
In the incubator, invited experts and participants will brainstorm and discuss a draft coral reef monitoring guideline for managing marine protected areas in the region with a focus on proposed indicators, methods, new technologies, and potential applications to make the guideline complete, accurate according to scientific principles and can effectively be applied in our region. The incubator will also promote capacity building in coral reef monitoring and marine protected area management.
Resilience-based management (RBM) is essential for ensuring the continued viability of coral reef functions and services in the face of climate change and anthropogenic impacts. The RBM approach requires several disciplines, including prioritizing, implementing, and adapting management interventions.
The incubator brings together coral experts, diverse stakeholders, and young scientists in the region to share their experiences and knowledge, including discussion and brainstorming on concepts, definitions, case studies of RBM, ecological and socio-economic considerations, knowledge gaps, and recommendations for RBM development. The expected output of the incubator will be a draft outline for RBM technical guidelines for coral reefs in the region.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and MPA networks stand out as highly effective tools for conserving biodiversity and managing natural resources within the globally significant Coral Triangle region, known for its marine biodiversity. To enhance MPA effectiveness, continuous learning from international standards and knowledge resources is essential. The IUCN Green List Standard is a global benchmark for assessing effective governance and management of protected and conserved areas, both marine and terrestrial, to deliver successful conservation outcomes. In 2022, IUCN conducted a regional workshop in Bali, Indonesia, to explore the MPA capacity development programme development for the Coral Triangle region based on the IUCN Green List.
This incubator will further validate the use of the Green List as a diagnostic tool for benchmarking MPA performance. Stakeholders from the Coral Triangle region and beyond will be invited to discuss the mainstreaming of the IUCN Green List, regional coordination platform and strengthening site-based capacity building.
The incubator will cover the basic understanding of nature-based solution concepts, issues, case studies and knowledge of coastal ecosystems in the region (NbS). The incubator aims to gather various experts, government stakeholders, policy makers and private sector to discuss various aspects of coastal ecosystems in terms of their importance for climate change. Through the incubator the participants will actively participate in a discussion on the potential of coastal ecosystems and how to properly set up, assess and conduct future NbS projects. Furthermore, the discussion with the participants will include various aspects and views, advantages and disadvantages of all sectors related to the future NbS projects and coastal ecosystems.
Jellyfish blooms pose significant ecological, economic, and societal challenges. This incubator aims to empower marine scientists, researchers, and policymakers with advanced techniques for accurate jellyfish species identification.
By combining morphological and molecular approaches, participants will learn to differentiate between species, assess population dynamics, and predict bloom occurrences. Furthermore, the Incubator will highlight the importance of sustainable ocean management by utilizing these identification methods to mitigate the impact of jellyfish blooms on fisheries, tourism, and ecosystem health. This incubator aligns with the conference theme and will contribute to accelerating ocean science solutions for sustainable development. We look forward to sharing our expertise and collaborating with fellow participants in addressing this critical marine issue. Leading this essential incubator will significantly contribute to advancing our understanding of jellyfish ecology, fostering a more resilient marine ecosystem, and making meaningful contributions to ocean science and sustainable development.