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Promoting coastal ecosystems conservation in the Indian Ocean Region

The IORA Indian Ocean Conference on Blue Carbon

Perth, Australia
19-23 March 2018

Blue carbon ecosystems which include mangroves, seagrasses and tidal marshes support food security and economic self-sufficiency though fisheries and tourism activities. They also play an important role in climate change mitigation and adaptation, besides protecting the livelihoods of coastal communities.

The IORA Indian Ocean Conference on Blue Carbon, organised by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in collaboration with the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), was held from 19-23 March 2018 at the Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre in Western Australia. It was attended by representatives from 17 IORA member states, 4 dialogue partners and participants from international organisations to share knowledge, experiences, and best practices on blue carbon initiatives.

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Group picture

The forum brought together scientists, policy-makers, businesses and communities on the subject area. Cheryl Rita Kaur, Head of the Centre for Coastal and Marine Environment MIMA and Lim Ai Gaik from the Department of Marine Parks Malaysia represented Malaysia to the meeting. 

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Cheryl Rita (extreme left) with delegates at the meeting

The main objectives of the forum was to build capacity in understanding blue economy principles and how blue carbon fits in the framework, generate understanding on how to apply blue carbon assessment methods in the region, promote economic empowerment through prudent use of blue carbon resources including participation from women, explain the role of the International Partnership for blue carbon (a coordinated global programme focusing on mitigating climate change through the conservation and restoration of the coastal and marine ecosystems), as well as develop a network of blue carbon practitioners in the region.    

The meeting discussed ecosystems degradation as a source of greenhouse emissions, which would otherwise be trapped in the plants and sediments. Wetland vegetation, although occupying only about two percent of the world’s seabed area, are responsible for some 50 percent of the carbon transfer captured by living organisms in ocean sediments.

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During the meeting

Overall, the forum shared information on the current status and developments on blue carbon resources in the Indian Ocean Rim, enhanced member states’ knowledge on how blue carbon fits in a blue economy framework, as well as provided practical skills on the assessment methods. Recommendations included establishing an Indian Ocean Blue Carbon Assessment Project allowing member states to provide samples to CSIRO for blue carbon analysis, improved data collection such as the creation of a blue carbon inventory and a regional knowledge sharing hub, exchange programmes for young scientists, capacity building programmes addressing issues such as rehabilitation of assets and ecosystems, as well as development of a regional blue carbon network.

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The programme also focused on enhancing practical understanding and skills on blue carbon assessment methods, both in the field and lab

MIMA agrees with IORA that sound science coupled with a robust policy and governance framework are key to blue carbon protection and restoration efforts at all levels. 

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