ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment (AWGCME)

  1. ASEAN has a coastline of 173,000 km with marine fish production (1998) amounting to 14% of world total, has 35% of the world’s mangrove forests, and about 30% of the coral reefs. Coastal and marine resources provide essential ecological, economic and social services in the ASEAN region. Coastal and marine waters serve as sinks for wastes from land-based sources, provide livelihood directly and indirectly to millions of people in ASEAN, provide food, maintain water cycles, regulate climatic conditions, and maintain the complex ecological balance of coastal and marine ecosystems.
  2. Recognizing the importance of coastal and marine resources for the livelihood of ASEAN people, ASEAN Leaders resolved to foster the conservation and sustainable management of coastal and marine ecosystems. The commitment of the ASEAN Leaders is reflected in the Blueprint for the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC Blueprint) (2009-2015) that shall serve as the guiding mandate of ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment (AWGCME
ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint 2009-2015
Section D.7: Promoting the Sustainable Use of Coastal and Marine Resources
Strategic Objective: Ensure ASEAN’s coastal and marine environment are sustainably managed; representative ecosystems, pristine areas and species are protected; economic activities are sustainably managed; and public awareness of the coastal and marine environment instilled.

  1. Enhance inter-agency and inter-sectoral coordination at the regional and international levels for achieving sustainable development of ASEAN’s coastal and marine environment;
  2. Build capacities to develop national marine water quality standards by 2015 using the ASEAN Marine Water Quality Criteria as a reference;
  3. Establish a representative network of protected areas to conserve critical habitats by 2015 through further implementation of the ASEAN Criteria for Marine Heritage Areas, and ASEAN Criteria for National Protected Areas;
  4. Promote conservation and sustainable management of key ecosystems in coastal and marine habitats, such as joint efforts to maintain and protect marine parks in border areas, and the “Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security”;
  5. Enhance the capacity and capability of, as well as economic benefits for the fishery and other coastal community to encourage their active participation in promoting environmental sustainability;
  6. Promote the sustainable use of coastal and marine environment through public awareness campaign to highlight the global importance of coastal and marine environment in addressing food security, maintaining ecosystem services, as well as protecting marine environment;
  7. Promote collaboration among AMS in responding to transboundary pollution due to the oil spill incidents; and
  8. Promote cooperation in addressing pollution of coastal and marine environment from land-based sources.
  1. To help protect these shared marine waters in the region, ASEAN adopted the ASEAN Marine Water Quality Criteria (AMWQC) in 2002. Seventeen parameters based on key pollutants were adopted as AMWQC. With funding and technical support from Australia, ASEAN published the ASEAN Marine Water Quality Criteria: Management Guidelines and Monitoring Manual in 2008. The publication serves as a regional mechanism for collective and harmonised efforts at the national level to sustain the quality of marine waters by providing management guidelines, and building monitoring and analytical capability.
  2. The Management Guidelines have been developed to provide guidance on a set of common approaches and methodologies that address marine water quality issues within the ASEAN region. These guidelines provide a shared set of broad objectives across the ASEAN region and provide information from which to derive flexible, alternative approaches that can be considered, as appropriate, by each member state to meet the differing needs of various bodies of water and to fit the differences in institutional, financial and human capacities that exist.
  3. The Monitoring Manual has been developed as a guide, documenting recommended methods for the implementation of marine water quality monitoring programmes. Methods for programme design, sampling, data analysis and interpretation and reporting and information dissemination have been selected on the basis of their suitability for use in the ASEAN region. The Publication is expected to assist in the improvement of marine water quality in ASEAN and deliver lasting benefits to the people of the region.

Completed and On Going Projects

  1. Given the cross-sectoral nature of coastal and marine environment, activities that addressed coastal and marine environment are not only managed by the AWGCME but also other relevant working groups in environment sector and beyond (e.g agriculture, transportation, marine science and technology). Some completed and ongoing coastal marine environment related projects, include: Publication on Marine Protected Areas in Southeast Asia was developed by the ASEAN Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation—now ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity—to provide a reference for policymakers, planners, academia, and park managers on the management of marine protected areas in order to save, rehabilitate and safeguard the coastal and marine resources in the region. With support from ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, AWGCME has also undertaken the development of both offline and online interfaces for encoding of (i) Species and (ii) Protected Areas . The offline and online database is expected to facilitate information sharing among AMS.
  2. The ASEAN-Korea Environmental Cooperation Project (AKECOP) Phase VI titled Restoration of Degraded Terrestrial and Mangrove Ecosystems and Conservation of Biodiversity in the ASEAN Region, with support from the ASEAN-ROK Special Cooperation Fund continues to be implemented for one (1) year 2013-2014). The project aims to enhance the capacity of ASEAN Member States (AMS) in managing their forest and mangrove ecosystems by providing low carbon green livelihood for the people while rehabilitating degraded areas and maintaining wood biomass to contribute for the mitigation of climate change in the region.