Asia-Pacific Community of Practice

Resources and projects Jul 16, 2020
Public domain
Hạ Long Bay, Vietnam

The Asia-Pacific region – home of Indian and Pacific Oceans, and two-thirds of the world's population – has benefited from healthy oceans and marine resources which have contributed to economic growth and poverty reduction in the region. However, the well-being of the ocean has been deteriorating at an unprecedented rate as a result of a multitude of issues including marine pollution, eutrophication, overfishing and climate change – the development gains over the past decades are at risk of being unsustainable. Ocean data and statistics as well as related institutions that are to support sustainable development policies are largely fragmented, partly owing to a lack of coherent statistical guidance with respect to the ocean.

In 2018 the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) initiated work in the area of ocean data, statistics and policy building on its experience in the implementation of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA). The work focused on (i) enhancing partnerships on ocean-related statistics and governance, (ii) providing reliable statistical guidance on ocean accounting, and (iii) building national capacity to produce and apply ocean accounts for national ocean policy and priorities through national pilot studies.

The pilot studies on ocean accounts were instrumental not only in assessing national ocean priorities, governance mechanisms, and data availability but also creating anational community of practice and strengthening interdepartmental collaboration among scientists, statisticians and policy experts. The studies resulted in policy-driven data standardization and integration: China developed harmonized ecosystem maps and carbon stock assessments of Beihai Bay, one of China’s important marine ecological sites; Malaysia examined food security risk along the Straits of Malacca under climate variability and changes in ecosystems; the sustainable tourism focus of Samoa, Thailand and Viet Nam enhanced the understanding of linkages between tourism income, natural resource use, land-based pollution, and ecosystem impacts. The pilot studies demonstrated how the ocean accounts framework, described in GOAP's Technical Guidance, could guide the harmonization and integration of ocean-related data to inform important national policy priorities, and how they contributed to further development and experimentation of the framework. In addition, the Global Ocean Accounts Partnership (GOAP) since its founding by ESCAP and University of New South Wales has expanded its members and partners towards a global community of practice for ocean accounting as a platform for mutual learning and support to enhancing policy-relevant applications of ocean accounts particularly at the national levels.

ESCAP maintains a Regional Ocean Accounts Platform and associated community of practice as a contribution to the GOAP, and has developed the following resources:

Workshop presentations and materials

Related ESCAP products