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Marine forum highlights UN's green mission

China Daily| Updated: June 24, 2022

With the theme of "Embrace the Ocean Decade for a Shared Future", the 2022 East Asia Marine Cooperation Platform Qingdao Forum was held from Tuesday to Thursday in Qingdao West Coast New Area, Shandong province.

More than 400 delegates from China and abroad, including economists, entrepreneurs, artists and ocean scientists, participated in the forum onsite or via video link.

The forum echoes the visions of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, which aims to foster international exchanges and cooperation in ocean-related technology, economy, culture and environmental protection.

Launched in 2016, the East Asia Marine Cooperation Platform is a priority project under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.

It has introduced 34 projects with a total investment of 84.5 billion yuan ($12.6 billion) over the past few years. Its annual Qingdao Forum and East Asia Marine Expo have so far attracted nearly 1,400 companies from more than 70 countries.

Wang Hong, vice-minister of natural resources, said at the event's opening ceremony on Wednesday that the ocean's problems are a global challenge. He called for dialogues to bridge differences and exchanges to increase mutual understanding and achieve win-win results.

"Through policy exchanges, best practice sharing, joint research, technology transfer and pilot projects, we all share a sea of peace, a sea of friendship and a sea of cooperation," Wang said through a video conference system.

Via online video, Vladimir Ryabinin, executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, announced at the forum's opening ceremony the approval of the UN Ocean Decade Collaborative Centre on Ocean-Climate Nexus, the first of its kind in China and one of the first six globally.

The center will be located in the West Coast New Area and is designed to provide Chinese solutions to global ocean governance by promoting the implementation of big science projects under the UN framework, such as the Ocean to Climate Seamless Forecasting System.

The OSF was jointly initiated by the First Institute of Oceanography of the Ministry of Natural Resources, 34 oceanographic and climate research institutions, and three international organizations from 25 countries.

As the first big science project in China's physical oceanography field under the UN framework, it is expected to enhance observation capabilities, develop a multi-hazard early warning system and exchange advanced knowledge and theories on ocean science and ocean management with the younger generation.

"We have to do many things in the ocean," Ryabinin said.

"We have to catalyze new actions. We have to do capacity development work. We also have to mobilize resources. We will move the world forward, toward the ocean we need, for the future we want."

As the first Chinese local government involved in the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development program, the West Coast New Area of Qingdao will take the opportunity to increase its significance in the marine sector by showcasing its ocean ecological protection and promoting international ocean affairs exchanges.

As a national-level new area focusing on the marine economy, the West Coast New Area is home to 17 ocean-related national key labs and engineering centers, as well as 11 other research institutions.

During the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), the output of ocean-related industries grew 14.4 percent on average annually, accounting for 40 percent of the city's total.

During the forum, the new area also witnessed the inauguration of International Marine Chamber of Commerce Association Alliance, an extension of the East Asia Marine Cooperation Platform.

By integrating high-quality maritime business associations at home and abroad, the alliance will gather international maritime industries across cultures, fields and regions, and build an international maritime industry exchange and cooperation platform.

The alliance has so far received applications from 24 associations based in a dozen countries, and has introduced two projects to the new area.

Zhang Weiwei, director of the China Institute of Fudan University and director of the university's center for China development model research, said the country's unique geographical location and landscape, with its vast and a continental passage connecting the whole of Eurasia, mean that it can "strike a balance between the development of its western inland and eastern coastal areas".

"Through our concrete actions, we will replace the old view on geographical competition with a new view on geographical civilization that features win-win cooperation," he said online.