Coastal and Marine Environment

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.

ASEAN has a coastline of 173,000 km, marine fish production (1998) is about 14% of world total, has 35% of the world’s mangrove forests, and about 30% of the coral reefs. Therefore sustainably managing the coastal and marine resources as well as maintaining its quality is a high priority for ASEAN.

The Hanoi Plan of Action (1999-2004) calls for the development of a framework to improve regional coordination for the integrated protection and management of coastal zones, development of a regional action plan for the protection of the marine environment from land-based and sea-based activities, and promote regional coordination to protect Marine Heritage Parks and Reserves.

The Vientiane Action Programme 2004-2010 (VAP), adopted and endorsed by the ASEAN Leaders during the 10th ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Lao PDR, in 2004, succeeded the Hanoi Plan of Action. The VAP describes the goals and strategies towards realising the ASEAN Community, which comprises of three pillars, the ASEAN Security Community (ASCC), the ASEAN Economic Community and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. Environmental cooperation generally falls under the ASCC and one of the key strategic thrusts of the ASCC is to promote environmental sustainability through environmental and natural resource management.

The specific programme area and measures in the VAP on coastal and marine environment are as follows:

Item 3.3.7 Coastal and Marine Environment

 

3.3.7.1 Enhance inter-agency and inter-sectoral coordination at the national, regional and international levels for achieving sustainable development of the ASEAN’s coastal and marine environment.
3.3.7.2 Further expand and implement the ASEAN Marine Water Quality Criteria.
3.3.7.3 Implement the ASEAN Criteria for Marine Heritage Areas, and ASEAN Criteria for National Protected Areas to establish a representative network of protected areas to protect critical habitats

 

In line with its mandate as the regional intergovernmental organization, ASEAN has in place the institutional framework and policy framework to promote regional coordination for the integrated protection and management of coastal zones and marine waters. The ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment (AWGCME) oversees the technical and implementation issues, while the ASEAN Environment Ministers and the ASEAN Senior Officials on the Environment provide policy and strategic guidance for its work. The AWGCME is composed of national focal points who are in charge of, or responsible for national coordination of coastal and marine issues. Currently work is focused in the following priority areas: coral reef, sea grass and mangroves; tanker sludge and ballast water; solid, liquid and hazardous waste management; coastal erosion; ecotourism; coastal wetlands, including protected marine areas; and clean technology. Focal points have been established in each of these areas to promote implementation at the national level and facilitate exchange of information.

The ASEAN Ministers responsible for environment have adopted the following criteria:

The Marine Water Quality Criteria sets values for an initial set of 17 parameters for the protection of aquatic life and human health, while the Criteria for National Marine Protected Areas and ASEAN Marine Heritage Areas contain criteria for designation and management of existing and new protected areas. These Criteria would ensure concerted national level action to protect the shared marine waters of ASEAN.

ASEAN recognizes the numerous activities undertaken by various organizations in the region and welcomes collaboration with these organizations to ensure coordinated approach for implementation and capacity building. In line with its mandate, ASEAN is well placed to facilitate and provide the forum for developing and implementing regional activities, and more importantly to ensure ownership and sustainability of these activities through the regional and national governmental institutions. To ensure such coordination, for example, ASEAN member countries through the GEF operational focal points have agreed that any future regional GEF activities will be coordinated using the relevant ASEAN institutional mechanism.

Previous Meetings of the AWGCME

  • 1st Meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment, 23 – 25 June 1999, Bangkok, Thailand
  • 2nd Meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment, 8 – 9 June 2000, Ha Noi, Viet Nam
  • 3rd Meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment, 10 – 11 July 2001, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
  • 4th Meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment, 9 – 10 July 2002, Ha Noi, Viet Nam
  • 5th Meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment, 11 – 12 June 2003, Sihanouk Ville, Cambodia
  • 6th Meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment, 22 – 23 June 2004, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • 7th Meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment, 11-12 August 2005, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • 8th Meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment, 31 July – 01 August 2007, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar
  • 9th Meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment, 3 – 4 July 2008, Manila, Philippines
  • 10th Meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment, 29 Jun – 1 July 2009, Singapore
  • 11th Meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment, 16 – 17 June 2010, Samui, Thailand

Upcoming Meeting of the AWGCME

  • 12th Meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment, 2011, Viet Nam