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Key conference on ocean sustainability

Updated: Nov 28, 2020 China Daily Print

Hundreds of officials, experts and business figures take part in annual gathering

The 2020 Marine Development Conference, held in Xiamen of East China's Fujian province on Monday, addressed the significance of sustainability in the ocean economy and will support regional marine sector growth in the long run.

Coinciding with the conference is the 2020 World Ocean Week in Xiamen, which runs from Nov 20-26 and has the theme of "Ocean, Health and Sustainability: A New Voyage to Blue Development".

More than 400 government officials, scholars and business representatives from across the world, online or in person, took part in the annual gathering to address key issues and share their latest findings on the ocean economy.

Nine representatives from international organizations and countries and regions taking part in the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road delivered speeches online. They included President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Zhang Xinsheng; Chief Representative Officer of the World Economic Forum in China David Aikman; and President of the PEMSEA Network of Local Governments for Sustainable Coastal Development Noraini Binti Roslan.

"The outbreak of COVID-19 pushed people to seriously think about ways that man and nature can coexist in harmony. We also learnt that trust and partnership are the right ways to create a better future," said Wang Hong, vice-minister of natural resources and director of the State Oceanic Administration.

"The 2020 World Ocean Week in Xiamen is a platform for us to discuss how to take care of the ocean while promoting relevant sectors' development," Wang said.

Peter Thomson, the United Nations secretary-general's special envoy for ocean affairs, greeted to all participants via video and addressed his concern over a worsening ocean environment. He emphasized that sustainable marine development is the key to supporting long-term economic development.

According to Aikman, the ocean can contribute $1.5 trillion annually to the world economy. It was estimated this figure will double to $3 trillion in 2030.

"The development of a sustainable blue economy will allow us and our future generations to continuously rely on the resources of a healthy ocean for livelihood and well-being," Aikman said.

He said investors, businesses and asset owners across the world have realized the importance of investing in a sustainable ocean economy. Business opportunities are emerging because global governments are aware of the importance of sustainability in the ocean economy.

Flor Torrijos, general administrator of the Marine Resource Authority of Panama, also shared her opinion on sustainability. She vowed to take responsibility to turn the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into a reality.

Jan-Gunnar Winther, a member of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development, gave a thumbs-up for Xiamen's efforts in sustainable ocean economy development. He said well-established legal and enforcement mechanisms in Xiamen are key elements in its successful ocean resource protection and restoration.

Hu Changsheng, Party secretary of Xiamen, delivered a keynote speech centered on Xiamen's marine economy development at the conference. He said the ocean is the lifeblood and source of wealth of Xiamen.

"We have to strengthen ocean ecology protection and restoration, promote cooperative treatment of pollution and establish an all-around monitoring system to take care of the ocean," Hu said.

The Xiamen government released a slew of measures at the conference, aiming to boost its marine economy development in the long run.

Eighteen new policies were released to support the city's modern marine industrial system construction, promote innovation and expand its industrial chain.

Xiamen's proposal for formulating the 14th Five-Year Development Plan (2021-25) of the marine economy was released to reflect the city's long-term vision.

According to the proposal, Xiamen will focus on developing six sectors in the upcoming five years. These are marine biopharmaceuticals, high-end marine equipment manufacturing, marine information and digitalization, marine culture and creation, marine high-tech services and marine-related financial services.

An action plan for promoting the marine industry of Xiamen in the upcoming three years was also released on Monday. Xiamen will focus on developing 10 major marine projects, covering marine-centered emerging business cultivation, fishing industry modernization, high-end services development, port service upgrade and technology innovation, according to the blueprint.

Twenty-five major projects to cover modern fishing, smart marine development, ports and marine biopharmaceuticals in Xiamen were signed at the conference, with total investment of nearly 30 billion yuan ($4.56 billion). Fourteen of them each has an investment of more than 500 million yuan.

The Xiamen government also signed a framework agreement with the Ministry of Natural Resources to jointly build the Xiamen Marine International Cooperation Center. It is to integrate marine-related resources, strengthen cooperation mechanism development, develop international cooperation programs and create platforms for Xiamen to publicize ocean development.

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