Monday, October 5, 2015

Greater cooperation needed to achieve inclusive development in Asia Pacific region -- Paje
By Irene A. Solmirano

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 4 (PNA) -- Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje on Sunday called for greater cooperation among 21 member-economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to unlock the full potential of the so-called "blue economy" and achieve inclusive growth in the region.

"We envision a regional cooperation to narrow the gap in economic development of our economies while sustaining growth with equity," Paje said in an emailed press statement to the Philippines News Agency, quoting his opening remarks during the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Blue Economy at the Iloilo International Convention Center in Iloilo City.

The forum, scheduled Oct. 4-5, is co-hosted by the DENR and the Department of Agriculture.

Paje, a Bicolano from Guinobatan, Albay, underscored the need to narrow the economic gap among APEC nations, noting that the region currently "comprise economies at varying levels in the development spectrum."

"There is a need for us to cooperate and address this wide economic gap," the DENR head stressed.

Paje said the two-day forum provides "an opportunity to discuss concrete and feasible actions to advance sustainable management and conservation of our coastal and marine ecosystems and habitats, and improved biodiversity to support higher fisheries productivity and provide better ecological services."

He said the focus of the meeting is anchored on one of the four priority themes of the Philippines, the host country of this year's APEC meetings, which is "Building Sustainable and Resilient Communities."

This specific theme, the environment chief said, contributes toward the three other themes, namely: the enhancing of regional economic agenda, fostering the participation of small and medium enterprises in regional and global markets, and supporting and investing in human resources.

"We firmly believe that these initiatives will expand our efforts in making the theme of the host economy APEC Philippines 2015 'Building inclusive economies, building a better world’ a reality," Paje said.

He added that harnessing the blue economy is most important in the Asia-Pacific considering that the region's marine resources account for two-thirds of the world's capture fishery production and 80 percent of the world's aquaculture production, making them vital in achieving food security.

The Albayano cabinet member said an important way of sustaining and even improving the productivity of the country's oceans is "improving the biodiversity of coastal and marine ecosystems" as healthy ecosystems "support higher fisheries production and provides better ecological services such as their important contribution to regulate climate and to disaster risk reduction."

"If we have healthy marine and coastal ecosystems, we can develop our brand of 'Blue Economy' defined as an approach to advance sustainable management and conservation of ocean and coastal resources and ecosystems and sustainable development, in order to foster economic growth," Paje stressed.

The APEC dialogue aims to produce a plan of action that would keep the coastal and marine ecosystems resiliency and ensure sustainable food supply chains.

The action plan tackles three priority areas: resilient oceans and coastal resources; fish loss production; and agri-business development.

"The plan of action has undergone several revisions from the important and valuable comments and suggestions from different member economies," Paje said.

He expressed hope and confidence that the proposed Plan of Action of the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Blue Economy will be adopted at the end of this meeting. (PNA) CTB/FGS/IAS/CBD/SSC