By virtue of Executive Order (EO) No. 533 dated June 6, 2006, Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) was adopted as a national strategy to ensure the sustainable development of the country’s coastal and marine environment and resources and establish support mechanisms for its implementation.

Under the EO, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in consultation with other concerned, sectors, and stakeholders, was tasked to develop a National Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) Program to provide direction, support and guidance to the Local Government Units (LGUs) and stakeholders in the development and implementation of their local ICM programs.

The successful adaptation and implementation of the ICM will lead to habitat protection, restoration and management of coastal municipalities, establishment of a network of marine protected areas to manage and protect fisheries resources, coral reefs, sea grass beds and mangrove forests.

1. In support of this mandate, the Philippines through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Partnerships in Environmental Management of the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) are co-organizing the 6th East Asian Sea (EAS) Congress at the Iloilo Convention Center in Iloilo City on November 27 to 30, 2018.

It is supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Provincial and City Governments of Iloilo.

This is the second time that the Philippines will host the Congress. The first was in 2009.

Previous Congresses were held in Malaysia in 2003, the People’s Republic of China in 2006, the Philippines in 2009, and the Republic of Korea in 2012.

The EAS Congress is a triennial conference. It was last held in Vietnam in 2015. It is a regional event which provides a dynamic platform for knowledge sharing, collaborative action, partnership building and a forum for advance commitment and cooperation in achieving the shared vision of a sustainable East Asian Seas.

The Congress has established its reputation as an intellectual marketplace and ocean-based forum that uniquely focuses on the world’s most diverse and fastest-growing region.

2. The Congress aims to address ocean and coastal area degradation through the sustainable management and use of marine resources, seas and oceans.

It also aims to further strengthen the implementation of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA) at the regional, national and local levels, with focus on the Sustainable Development Goal No. 14 – Life Below Water which targets the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, seas and oceans.

3. The theme of the Congress is 25 Years of Partnerships for Healthy Oceans, People and Economies, Moving as One with the Global Ocean Agenda.

4. The Congress marks a new phase for the region as it aims “to further strengthen efforts on ocean-based blue economy that is geared towards more strategic and impactful actions at the local, national, regional and even international level.”

5. The Congress will culminate in the 6th Ministerial Forum. The Forum is a triennial event that serves as an opportunity for the concerned government ministers of the region to meet and engage in policy dialogue.

It provides direction pertaining to key concerns for regional cooperation and expresses the fulfillment of their international commitments related to sustainable development. It receives reports from the East Asian Seas Partnership Council and the recommendations of the triennial East Asian Seas Congress.

The output of the Forum is the Ministerial Declaration which will be signed by all the participating Ministers.

6. In the 2015 Congress, 11 country partners signed the Da Nang Compact on the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA) 2015. The countries include Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Singapore, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.

The Da Nang Compact signifies the commitment of the 11 countries to strengthen ocean management at both regional and national levels within the priorities, goals and capacities of each member country. It reconfirms their commitment to reaffirm their regional coastal and marine strategy which is the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia for 2016 to 2021 (SDS-SEA).

7. The SDS-SEA is a package of applicable principles, relevant existing regional and international action programmes, agreements, and instruments, as well as implementation approaches, for achieving sustainable development of the Seas of East Asia.

It embodies the shared vision of the countries and other stakeholders for the Seas of East Asia which is sustainable development of the region’s oceans and coasts.

The signing of the Compact marked an important milestone in promoting the sustainable development of East Asian countries, as well as highlighting EAS’s vital role in setting some of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.

8. Around 1,000 stakeholders including national and local governments, the United Nations system, other intergovernmental organizations, bilateral and multi-lateral projects, international financial institutions, non-government and civil society organizations, academic institutions, the scientific community and the private sector.

9. Activities in the Congress

 Ocean Talk (series of plenary sessions) combined with SEA Exchange (dialogues with partners)
 Partnership Hubs (partner-led side events)
 Youth Forum and PEMSEA Network of Local Governments (PNLG) Forum which will culminate in a Ministerial Forum on the final day of the Congress
 International Exhibition (showcase of innovation and progress in meeting SDG 14 and SDS-SEA implementation
 Field visit in the island province of Guimaras, a PEMSEA integrated coastal management (ICM) site

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