2nd APEC Oceans Related Ministerial Meeting

Bali, Indonesia, 15 September 2005
  • Speech by Ambassador Choi Seok Young, Executive Director, APEC Secretariat
His Excellencies AOMM Chair Minister Freddy Numberi and Co-Chair Minister Geoff Regan, Honorable APEC Ministers, observers and representatives from international organizations and non-governmental organizations, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.
Allow me to begin by saying that I am greatly honored to be standing before you today. Like many of you present here, I have a special affinity for the Oceans-Related Ministerial meeting, because I was a participant during the first meeting in Seoul in the capacity of the special adviser to then Korean Chairman.
The Pacific Ocean - A Uniting Force for the APEC Economies
It was not too long ago that when it was said "we are oceans apart" - it meant that there was a vast difference in understanding, or at the very least in the literal sense, that thousands of miles made it difficult to communicate. We all know that this is no longer true, and in fact, we now consider the Pacific Ocean as something that brings together and unites the APEC economies.
When we focused on discussions around the theme "Our Coasts, Our Oceans ... An Action Plan for Sustainability," this concept of ownership, community and responsibility was clearly captured. This in turn directly tied up with this year's APEC theme of "Towards One Community, Meet the Challenge, Make the Change."
Yet while we seek to find common scientific bases to understand the Ocean that unites us, we must also start to take concrete steps to craft policy and effect changes immediately. Our common desire to draw up a Bali Plan of Action to carry on where the Seoul Oceans Declaration left off is seen through the proposals for practical and feasible commitments to achieve the goal of "Towards Healthy Oceans and Coasts for the Sustainable Growth and Prosperity of the Asia Pacific Community."
The economic value of our oceans and coasts cannot be overstated. APEC accounts for 75% of the world's capture fisheries, over 90% of the world aquaculture production and consumes 70% of the world's fish products. We are likewise aware of the dire predictions of financial and ecological disaster if we do not take heed of the dangers posed by Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU) or the innocuously labeled Introduced Marine Pests (IMPs) among others. That is why the cross-cutting issue of sustainable development has more and more underscored the overtly economic focus of the APEC process. Thus, we should be proud that while we seek common economic prosperity in our region, we do so with the tempering thought of utilizing our resources wisely.
APEC Update
Allow me to briefly update the participants on other APEC developments as we enter the last quarter of this year. APEC 2005 has been guided by the overarching theme of "Towards One Community" and 7 sub-themes. I wish to highlight notable features.
The year 2005 is important in the APEC's process, as it marks the mid-point between 1989, the year the APEC was created, and 2020, the year of the completion of the Bogor Goals. It is enormous task to take stock of the progress towards the Bogor Goals. At SOM III held in Gyungju Korea reviewed the draft of the Mid-term Stocktaking which includes the past achievements and the roadmaps ahead.
Another important subject is APEC reform and financial sustainability. Faced with the call for more efficient work of the APEC, Senior Officials addressed three issues such as ensuring the financial sustainability, strengthening the Ecotech activities and enhancing the efficient coordination. I am proud to say that we have made substantial progress in all these three areas.
APEC also attached great importance to the successful preparation of the 6th WTO Ministerial Meeting to be held in Hong Kong in December this year, and contribution to the advancement of the WTO/DDA negotiation. The MRT held in June in Jeju already made useful inputs to the DDA process by making a bold commitment to introduce deeper cut of tariffs for the non-agricultural goods.
FTAs/RTAs have become an integral part of our joint undertaking to achieve the Bogor Goals. We have witnessed the proliferation of the FTAs/RTAs, and heard the concerns that they may undermine the multilateral liberalization process. Building on the progress made last year to introduce the best practice of FTAs/RTAs, APEC members are working towards the formulation of model facilitation clauses.
In addition to these areas, the year 2005 will mark significant progress in the formulation of anti-corruption actions, counterfeit and anti-piracy actions, strategies for emergency preparedness, secure trade, economic and technical cooperation and cross cultural communications.
The APEC Process and Oceans-Related issues
APEC process is now much more attuned to Oceans related issues. And thus, while we recognize the work of Marine Resource Conservation and Fisheries Working Groups - both groups being the backbone of APEC work on marine resources and utilization, allow me to also point to other activities that have direct impact on Oceans-Related issues.
The issue of disaster preparedness in the APEC process has been with us since 1997 and many activities have been undertaken since then. The tsunami of December 2004 and more recent natural disasters have prompted the formulation of an APEC strategies on emergence preparedness and the establishment of a TF on Emergence Preparedness.
At the 12th Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting held in Daegu, Korea earlier this month, SME Ministers endorsed the APEC SME Disaster and Emergency Preparedness Checklist, which will be forwarded as part of the overall package of 2005 work across APEC for recognition by the Leaders in their November meeting in Busan.
Under the ISTWG - there will also be an APEC EqTAP seminar on earthquake and tsunami disaster reduction this September 27-28 in Jakarta.
The overarching issue of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) which includes Introduced Marine Pests and Introduced Plant Pests is also being tackled at the level of SOM and the ESC through a workshop which will be held this month in Beijing.
Mr. Chairman,
It is now clear that Oceans Related issues have raised their profile in the entire APEC process, and this is a positive development. While we should be thankful for this, we should also recognize that much of it is also driven by domestic, regional (outside of APEC), as well as, international debate and discussion. We should build upon this synergy and just as we discover methods or processes that are of common benefit, so should we share this information globally.
We should be especially grateful for the input given by other international organizations that deal on these same issues, and non-governmental organizations who also represent stakeholders in common objectives.
As this meeting summarizes the discussions of the past few days in a Joint Ministerial Statement, and encapsulates our future agenda through a Bali Plan of Action, I am confident that this experience will serve as a model for consensus building and effective policy formulation and program implementation.
Thank you.