With the increasing climate risks and multiple challenges that we are facing today, moving towards stronger cooperation among island nations and regions with islands, which have a lot in common, is logical.
ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) Executive Director Theresa Mundita Lim explained the many similarities island ecosystems across the world share, during the first-ever high-level forum on ocean sustainability organised by the ASEAN Secretariat and Seychelles on the sidelines of the Expo 2020 Dubai.
Nine ASEAN member states have coastal areas, and all 10 have vital river systems and waterways that drain into the sea. The ASEAN people depend on these coastal and marine ecosystems for food, livelihood, commerce, and transportation, among others.
Like Seychelles, one of the pioneers of blue economy, the ASEAN region exports products derived from marine sources.
ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi opened the forum on October 10, 2021, which was attended by dignitaries and business officials.
“I would like to emphasise the importance of sustainability to ensure socio-economic development is compatible with the health of our oceans. As we all know, the overall economic potential of the oceans – including all ocean-based economic activities that use both inputs from, as well as outputs for, the oceans – is huge,” Dato Paduka Lim said.
Dotted with more than 28,000 islands collectively, the region’s coastal and marine habitats are home to 34 per cent of the world’s coral reefs, with over 600 species of hard corals and over 1,300 reef-associated fish species.
The region also contains 51 of the world’s 70 mangrove species and 23 of the 50 seagrass species, the ACB said.
Former Seychelles President James Michel, the executive chairman of the James Michel Foundation, also shared the initiatives that Seychelles has undertaken in advancing blue economy.