30 August 2011, Baltimore, USA – The Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN) organized a special session on Vulnerability and Risk Management of Enclosed Coastal Seas Home to Asian Megacities on Monday 29th August, 2011, to look at the added vulnerability of enclosed coastal seas that are home to Asian megacities, and how the risks posed to enclosed coastal seas is exacerbated by socio-economic pressures as well as climate change.
During this special session organized for the EMECS 9 Conference held from 28-31 August 2011, invited experts from China, Japan, Thailand and the United Kingdom shared information on emerging issues, science-policy gaps, as well as challenges and opportunities faced by several Asian enclosed coastal seas home to megacities in which, in total, billions of people live.
The session was opened by Dr. Akio Takemoto, APN Secretariat Director and Chair of the APN Session, who welcomed all of the participants and introduced the session speakers.
In his opening address, Mr. Toshizo Ido, Governor of Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, welcomed the participants and expressed his gratitude for their participation in the session. He stressed that environmental conservation in enclosed coastal seas and in other coastal zones is not only a challenge for Hyogo Prefecture, Japan where the Seto Inland Sea is located, but it is a challenge shared by all Asia-Pacific countries.
Governor Ido acknowledged the APN’s efforts to bring together experts to share the latest knowledge and experience on three major cities located in enclosed coastal sea areas of the Gulf of Thailand, Bay of Bengal and the Bohai Bay of China.
“I believe that the APN session will be a very meaningful opportunity to exchange opinions and share information among participants from Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America, and Africa.” He added.
Vulnerability of coasts home to megacities in Asia
Prof. Mark Pelling, King’s College London, shared via video link the latest development on a Synthesis Report on Megacities and Urban Regions on the Coast, a collaborated project sponsored by LOICZ and IGBP. He stressed that Asia is a critical region in terms urbanization, climate change, globalization and governance, and that reliable and comparable data needs to be collected and compiled despite the fact that the challenges are clear on a macro scale.
Noting the limited experiments carried out in adaptation in large coastal cities, he emphasized that while political involvement is of critical importance, evidence of innovation and experiments will play a vital role in providing a sound scientific base for such involvement.
Finally, Dr. Pelling shared the experience on identifying gaps in policy for resilience from a case study on heatwave risk management in London, which he commented as a robust risk management process but there’s a need to incorporate social processes in assessing and understanding risk and its management.
APN and its project-related coastal activities
Mr. Yukihiro Imanari, Executive Manager, APN Secretariat,went on to provide an introduction of APN and a summary of APN project-related coastal activities, with a special focus on the APN-funded workshops entitled Cities at Risk, which was designed to build capacity for individual and institutional participation in responding to climate change in Asia’s coastal megacities, among other important goals.
In his presentation, Mr. Imanari also announced the release of a new APN brochure entitled “Coast to Coast: A Roundup of APN Activities on Marine and Coastal Research Priorities”, a communications tool that provides examples of APN-funded coastal projects, and a summary of all related projects.
Megacities examined: Bangkok,Tianjin and Dhaka
Prof. Piamsak Menasveta, Dean, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok Thailand, and Prof. Zhongyuan Chen, East China Normal University, Shanghai China, presented information on the coastal zones on Bangkok, Thailand and Tianjin, China respectively, which centred around the following issues:
- Current status of the megacities in the face of risks posed by enclosed coastal seas and pressures from social-economic development;
- The multiple causes of current issues faced by the megacities and their observed and predicted effects on the cities themselves and the livelihood of people;
- Available and envisaged measures to respond to the risks posed by enclosed coastal seas through strengthening the science-policy interface.
Circumstances did not allow for the Bangladesh Speaker to be present, however, his abstract and presentation were distributed for information.
In the active panel discussion that followed, the important question of how to strengthen communications between national and local governments was discussed, which is considered crucial in increasing megacities’ resilience to the vulnerabilities imposed by both socio-economic development and climate change.
Before closing the session, Dr. Takemoto noted that the APN has a very important role to play in terms of responding to the questions of risk management posed today and, particularly, to support developing countries in order to mainstream risk management into policy development for coastal megacities.
He also expressed his hope that the outcomes will continue to complement the research agendas of APN, EMECS, LOICZ and other institutions on coastal vulnerabilities and risk management practices.
About EMECS 9 and the APN
The purpose of EMECS9 is to improve our ability to manage enclosed or semi-enclosed coastal seas in all their ecological, economic, and cultural dimensions. The conference will work to cross barriers of discipline and culture by bringing together experts and stakeholders from different backgrounds to share information, insights, and lessons learned. The EMECS 9 Conference was held in Baltimore, Maryland USA, 28-31 August, 2011.
APN provided gold sponsorship in support of the EMECS 9 Conference and organized a special session on Vulnerability and Risk Management of Enclosed Coastal Seas Home to Asian Megacities, which took place on Monday 29th August, 2011.
About the APN brochure “Coast to Coast”
The publication can be downloaded from the following link: http://goo.gl/WO360
For more information about this special session and general information about the APN, please contact Dr. Linda Anne Stevenson, APN Executive Science Officer, Email: [email protected], or Mr. Xiaojun Deng, APN Programme Officer for Communications and Development, Email: [email protected].