Presently the ocean system is changing at an accelerated pace and is experiencing increasing cumulative impacts, such as global warming, extreme weather events, oil spills and ecological disasters, etc., which threatens the sustainable marine development and human well-being. In such a situation, frequent floods, droughts and other marine hazards have caused great damage to economic growth, ecological environment and social stability of ASEAN countries who are China’s important neighbors, long-term friends and strategic partners. Thus the most pressing need of the two sides is to join hands to promote ocean sustainability and collectively find transformative solutions to the existing and future challenges that face the ocean and humankind. The communications and collaboration between China and ASEAN countries on the construction of cooperation framework and platforms is the core within the scope of this work. Building solid Blue Partnership between China and ASEAN will promote the joint research on ocean and climate monitoring and forecasting, improve the understanding and protection of marine ecosystems, enhance the capacity of responding to climate change and natural disasters, amplify the access to data and technology, and further contribute to achieve a healthy and sustainable ocean, through China-ASEAN Blue Partnership Construction Program. The work focus of the program is outlined below.
1. Cooperation Mechanism and Platform Building
Based on existing joint laboratory, collaborative centers and organizations between China and ASEAN countries, a cooperation framework has been formulated to advance the Blue Partnership. For improved regional multi-lateral cooperation, new mechanisms and platforms are planed to integrate and coordinate the shared China-ASEAN efforts towards the ocean protection. Comprehensive voyages were organized and marine observation stations were upgraded to expand the bilateral engagement in ocean investigations.
2. Ecosystems Monitoring, Protection and Resilience
Multidisciplinary observation and three-dimensional monitoring were carried out with special focus on coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves, estuaries and bay-islands in Southeast Asia and its surrounding areas to increase the knowledge of the biodiversity of different marine ecosystems and their response and adaptation to environmental changes. Preservation areas were selected and restoration projects and demonstration zones were established to enhance ecosystems conservation and build marine resilience.
3. Marine Forecasting and Disaster Warning System
China's self-developed marine forecasting technology was adopted to establish the ocean environmental forecasting and disaster early warning system for Southeast Asian waters. The program seeks to provide forecasting products and services and achieve effective operation of the system by receiving and processing the real-time data from the Southeast Asian observation network, thus the prediction and early warning of marine environmental disasters and emergencies such as oil spill, marine rescue, and hazards response were strengthened.
4. Marine Economic Cooperation and Development
Joint surveys and assessments of resources, environment, ecology and socio-economic development of coastal zone in typical regions were conducted, with Thailand, Cambodia and other ASEAN countries as the focus. The program aims to advance the development of emerging marine industries including seawater desalination, medicine, biological products and renewable energy, and build the China-ASEAN marine industry alliance to mobilize and integrate platforms, investment and human resources. Innovative approaches and measures to promote the sound and sustainable development of ocean economies were studied and discussed, dialogues and exchanges on marine economic strategic planning were nourished and additionally more efforts were made to give full potential to blue carbon value.
5. Marine Cooperation Policy and Management
Policies and management of the China-ASEAN Blue Partnership were planned and carried out through joint research, seminars and training, and think tanks building to catalyze cooperation on application and demonstration of marine dynamic environmental forecasting and other relevant technologies and products. Multilateral cooperation was conducted in regional ocean governance, formulating the outcomes of reports, strategies and systems, and advanced research courses. The program also strives to provide policy-related public products and services for ASEAN countries, and efficiently transfer cooperative achievements on ocean science in aid of policy-making capacity, as a way to enhance mutual trust between China and ASEAN countries and facilitate sustainable development in Southeast Asia.