On the occasion of Mother Earth Day on 22 April, UNESCO Jakarta Office organized the “Intersection between Climate Change and the Ocean in Asia Pacific SIDS” on 20 April 2021, supported by Japanese Funds-in-Trust. Panelists shared the overview of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, Challenges and practices at SIDS, and the various practice on Climate Change mitigation and Ocean protection at SIDS.
The interaction of the earth, ocean, climate, and weather induced disasters are key scientific areas under UNESCO’s portfolio and where UNESCO’s multidisciplinary approaches can play an important role. UNESCO and partners explored how we can better support Small Island Developing states (SIDS), which are at particular risk. Dr. Hans Dencker Thulstrup, Officer in Charge of UNESCO’s Regional Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, welcomed representatives from SIDS, experts, UNESCO colleagues, and over 200 participants to enhance our understanding on ongoing work and explore future action we can take.
Dr. Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, set the scene by providing a UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030). He highlighted that the first call for actions related to the Decade received hundreds of proposals, which shows strong interest and commitment from partners. Dr. Wenxi Zhu, Head and Programme Specialist UNESCO IOC/WESTPAC, explained the specific action in the region that included various ocean monitoring and capacity development efforts.
Reports from Maldives, Timor-Leste, and Fiji introduced not only concerns and adverse impact of Climate Change, ocean degradation, and the recent cyclone Seroja, but also several successful projects that they have been undertaking. These were carried out by government, schools, NGOs, youth groups and community members in partnership with the international community. Improvements were found in the incorporation of the Climate Change Adaptation into the national development plans, institutional set-up, and budgeting to effectively address Climate Change issues.
Ongoing practices in SIDS were introduced by experts. From the research community, the latest research on the development of Climate Change adaptation plan in SIDS was introduced. This was followed by the interventions on the Sandwatch and Ocean Literacy initiatives that have been promoted and implemented by UNESCO inside and beyond the region. Finally, the SIDS climate change education initiative SEREAD (Scientific Educational Resources and Experience Associated with the Development or Argo Drifting Floats)” was presented.
Mr Ardito Kodijat, National Professional Officer of UNESCO Jakarta DRR unit, concluded the meeting by outlining ways forward, committing to follow-up with SIDS by leveraging existing programmes, youth and young professionals, and by pursuing inter-disciplinary knowledge base approach.