OPRI-SPF Co-hosts First Webinar in the “Blue Recovery Series”
-- Ensuring a robust ‘blue’ recovery in Asia and the Pacific

August 20, 2020

The Ocean Policy Research Institute of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (OPRI-SPF) co-hosted a webinar entitled “Ensuring a robust 'blue' recovery in Asia and the Pacific – Promoting Blue Recovery from COVID-19 and Achieving a Sustainable Ocean” with The Nippon Foundation and the Economist Group’s World Ocean Initiative on July 23, 2020, in commemoration of Japan’s National Ocean Day. The first in a series of three webinars in the “Blue Recovery Series,” this session aimed to highlight the opportunities offered by the economic pause caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to ignite a sustainable blue recovery and bolster policies for a sustainable ocean in Asia and the Pacific.

*The webinar video is available at the bottom of this article.
Dr. Atsushi Sunami, President of SPF and OPRI-SPF
Dr. Atsushi Sunami, President of SPF and OPRI-SPF
Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation
Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation
In his opening address, Dr. Atsushi Sunami, President of SPF and OPRI-SPF, referred to the economic damage caused by the pandemic and introduced the webinar series as an opportunity to “address how the ocean-based economy, or blue economy, can trigger socioeconomic recovery.” He also noted that in addition to the pandemic, Japan has also been facing difficulties from natural disasters, including the heavy rains that battered Kyushu and other areas of the country earlier that month. Recognizing that “we cannot go back to the same place after COVID-19” and that cooperation through innovation and partnerships will become increasingly critical, he expressed his wishes for the webinar to serve as “a useful platform to exchange ideas and promote dialogues, fill the gap regarding policy dialogues, and enable us to advance our work for the forthcoming important summits and conferences toward achieving a sustainable ocean.”

Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation and Honorary Chairman of SPF, spoke about the foundation’s initiatives in response to the crisis facing the oceans, including the training of experts in ocean-related fields from more than 150 countries, support to Pacific small island countries including Palau, and efforts leading to the enactment of Japan's Basic Act on Ocean Policy. Regarding the state of the ocean, he said “we must come to terms with the ocean by addressing its cry as an ultra-long-term challenge of a thousand years.” When addressing the question of priorities for tackling the challenges facing the ocean, Mr. Sasakawa pointed to examples of technological innovation, such as the digitalization of the ocean industry. However, he raised the concern that “there are still not many who see the ocean issue from the perspective of a threat to the survival of mankind,” and expressed hope that leaders of both states and businesses, as well as members of the global community in general, would become fully aware of the prevailing threat.
H.E. Mr. Tommy E. Remengesau Jr., President of the Republic of Palau
H.E. Mr. Tommy E. Remengesau Jr., President of the Republic of Palau
Mr. Charles Goddard, Asia-Pacific Editor at the Economist
Mr. Charles Goddard, Asia-Pacific Editor at the Economist
Moderated by Mr. Charles Goddard, Asia-Pacific Editor at the Economist, the webinar also featured distinguished speakers from both the public and private sector. H.E. Mr. Tommy E. Remengesau Jr., President of the Republic of Palau, announced that blue recovery will be a major theme during the “Seventh Our Ocean Conference” to be held in Palau in December 2020. President Remengesau also highlighted examples of successful partnerships, including the Palau National Marine Sanctuary project as well as his work as co-chair of the “High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy,” and expressed his intention to work on various ocean-related problems with many partners going forward from the perspective of a small island country.

From the point of view of technological innovation, Ms. Armida Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP), addressed the knowledge gaps that remain especially when it comes to ocean-related issues, and stressed the important role that data collection can play in spurring blue recovery efforts.

Mr. Tatsuhiko Kashimura, managing director of Refinverse, presented a view from Japan’s private sector, introducing the firm’s efforts to work with local fisheries networks in various parts of Japan to collect discarded fishing nets to produce nylon fibers for recycling and to reuse these materials for other purposes.

Concluding the session, Dr. Sunami expressed his hopes toward the further promotion of blue recovery, emphasizing the importance of the “United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development,” which begins in 2021, and the further implementation of blue finance mechanisms. As for Japan’s blue recovery initiatives going forward, he said “the partnership between the government and private sector is going to be very important.” Lastly, Dr. Sunami highlighted some of OPRI-SPF’s efforts toward further research on blue recovery, including collaboration with the Asian Development Bank to create a policy that leverages blue financing to help regions recover from the pandemic, as well as a partnership with the Stimson Center in Washington D.C. aiming to develop a model for economic resilience using financial insurance mechanisms to attract necessary investment for economic recovery.
 
(Satoko Takahara, SPF PR)


A summary of the webinar is also available on the Economist Group’s World Ocean Initiatives website.
Ensuring a robust “blue” recovery in Asia and the Pacific

To view the full webinar, please see the video below.

Upcoming schedule in the "Blue Recovery Series"
Second webinar: “Science, innovation and the blue recovery”
Wednesday August 26, 2020, 5pm JST / 9am BST / 10am CET

Third webinar: “The blue recovery and the delayed ocean ‘super’ year”
Thursday September 3, 2020, 9pm JST/ 1pm BST / 2pm CET/ 8am EDT

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