SEAKB updates and HLPSOE publications

Welcome to the first of PEMSEA’s 2020 e-updates. We would like to open the year by sharing information about our SEA Knowledge Bank (SEAKB), which had its contents and features expanded in 2019. The High Level Panel for the Sustainable Ocean Economy has released the first two of its Blue Paper Reports, The future of food from the sea and The expected impacts of climate change on the ocean economy. The climate change paper is timely, given the past 10 years were the hottest in history.

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The UN is drafting new plans to replace the expired and largely unachieved Aichi biodiversity targets, with the aim of halting further extinction. These targets will be too late for the Chinese paddlefish, which has been declared extinct by researchers. The target to reach a deal by 2020 to prevent overfishing has also been missed.

Global consumption is rising, reaching 100 billion tonnes annually last year. China has taken action to reduce its waste output, announcing bans on some single-use plastic items. Uncollected waste is thought to have exacerbated flooding in Jakarta over the New Year period.

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Capturing regional efforts in oceans and coasts through the SEA Knowledge Bank

PEMSEA is excited to share the Seas of East Asia Knowledge Bank (SEAKB), which was developed as a regional knowledge hub for coastal and ocean governance and the blue economy. SEAKB is home to a host of products and services, such as an e-library containing technical references and reports, case studies, best practices, legislations, guides, manuals, and tools; materials and training courses for capacity development; information and guidance on State of the Coasts reporting and ocean investments; and much more.

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New High Level Panel for the Sustainable Ocean Economy reports

Two Blue Paper reports have been launched by the High Level Panel fo the Sustainable Ocean Economy. The first, The future of food from the sea, details the threats facing ocean nutrition, and policy changes which could counter these threats. The second, The expected impacts of climate change on the ocean economy, examines how climate change will impact sectors such as fisheries, mariculture, and ecotourism. More papers will be published in the coming months.

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From the News section
Biodiversity

Study declares ancient Chinese paddlefish extinct
One of only two paddlefish species, the Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius) has been declared extinct following a large-scale survey of the Yangtze River basin which found no individuals. Its extinction follows decades of pollution and increasing fragmentation of its habitat.

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UN draft plan sets 2030 target to avert Earth’s sixth mass extinction
The UN Convention on Biological Diversity has released a draft text for a new set of biodiversity targets. Replacing the largely missed Aichi targets, these new targets set 2030 as the target date to meet biodiversity protection and sustainability goals. The text will come before the world’s governments in a meeting at Kunming, China, in October.

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New assessment method reveals many fish stocks are in urgent need of sustainable management
Abundance Maximum Sustainable Yields (AMSY) methodology reveals fish stock around the world are seriously depleted and in need of better management. This method allows for assessment in areas that lack data required for traditional assessment methods. Some countries, such as China, are already implementing AMSY to evaluate fisheries.

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Climate change

People urgently fleeing climate crisis cannot be sent home, UN rules
A UN ruling on the case of an asylum seeker claiming climate change threatened his life on a Pacific island established that climate change was a legitimate reason to claim asylum, assuming the person faces immediate risk. Rising sea levels may make many populated areas uninhabitable within decades.

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2019 was second-hottest year on record, 2010s hottest decade
At just 0.04°C below the record temperatures of 2016, 2019 was the second-hottest year on record, and the 43rd consecutive year of above-average temperatures. Record-high temperatures were recorded in some areas of the oceans, including the western and south-western Pacific. Global temperatures are now about 1.1°C above their pre-industrial average.

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Marine pollution

Turning challenges into opportunities to tackle marine plastic pollution
The circular economy is a potential alternative to the current linear economy which leads to 8 billion kilograms of plastic entering the oceans annually. Transforming the economy will require significant changes, and this brings with it key investment opportunities. Some areas that will grow are building ecosystem-wide infrastructure support, adopting sustainable business models and strategies, and fostering communal behavior change.

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China to ban single-use plastic bags and other items
China has announced that non-biodegradable single-use plastic bags will be banned from major cities by the end of 2020, and from all cities and towns by the end of 2022 (except for use with fresh produce). Single-use straws will be banned by the end of 2020. From 2025 onwards, hotels will no longer be able to offer guests single-use plastic items. This adds to a 2008 ban on ultra-thin plastic bag production.

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Global consumption hits 100b tonnes
2019 saw global material consumption reach 100 billion tonnes for the first time. Only 8.2% of this material is reused or recycled, which is a drop from 2018 when 9.1% was reused and recycled. Despite this negative trend, positive signs are visible in the adoption of circular economy ideas around the world.

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Coastal and ocean governance

Environmental damage exacerbates Jakarta flooding amid record rainfall
Jakarta saw widespread flooding over the New Year period following heavy rainfall, displacing over 30,000 people throughout the greater urban area. In some areas, floodwaters reached up to 2 meters. Ground subsidence and solid waste pollution contributed to the severity of the event.

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Trade negotiators have missed a deadline to help protect fish stocks
The Sustainable Development Goals called for an agreement to limit fishing subsidies to be reached by 2020, as part of efforts to improve the sustainability of the world’s fisheries. An expected meeting to reach a deal in December 2019 was postponed until June 2020. It is estimated that a total of $22 billion in subsidies goes to the world’s fishing industry.

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Report claims shrimp farmers face financial risk from mangrove loss
A report from the advocacy group Planet Tracker links 30% of deforestation in Southeast Asia to shrimp farming. This deforestation, often of mangrove forests, means that per kilogram shrimp farming may contribute more to climate change than cattle farming. A lack of transparency surrounding this deforestation damages the long-term ability to assess the sector, especially as the loss of mangroves damages the long-term viability of shrimp farms.

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Natural capital tools guide for companies
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has produced a guidebook for private companies that is intended to aide them in using tools that can assess natural capital. The ability to value the impacts of ecosystem goods and services is essential to integrating natural capital into economic planning and decision making.

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Blue economy

How Singapore is fast becoming a global aquaculture hotspot
Singapore’s drive for food self-sustainability is leading it to invest heavily in aquaculture, as part of a wider investment into food innovation and research. Over 20 state agencies provide support to the aquaculture sector. Currently Singapore imports 120 thousand metric tonnes of seafood annually.

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First self-assessment framework to measure business’ circular performance
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has launched a Circular Transition Indicators (CTI) framework, which has been designed with the input of businesses to provide a way to assess circularity. A free online tool allows companies to perform their own assessment of their circularity.

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Why the crisis engulfing nature matters for business and the economy
The huge changes human activity has brought to the world’s land, oceans, and ecosystems, and changes which are likely to occur in the future, will have a significant impact on businesses. However, the nature of these potential impacts are still poorly understood. A new report, Nature Risk Rising, looks into the topic of how the degradation of nature impacts business and the private sector.

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