Brilliant fireworks are underway at the site of the 2012 Yeosu Expo in the South Jeolla Province on the first day of the Year of the Dragon, celebrating the onset of the event that kicks off next week. / Korea Times file
An innovative driver of the Yeosu Declaration is to send the message of the importance of the ocean, coasts and islands as a new engine of green economy.By Jang Do-soo As the opening date for Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea approaches, Yeosu, a beautiful southern coastal city vibrant with life, is making final preparations. Many features of the international fair such as Beluga whales, the Big-O – an innovative circular venue – and the 73 meter tall Sky Tower have already created a media buzz. But the real objective of the Expo is to promote a vision of “green growth from the sea”; a spirit of harmony between the ocean and people encapsulated in the Yeosu Declaration. Essence of Yeosu Declaration The Yeosu Declaration aims to promote greater stewardship of the marine environment, sharing knowledge and understanding of how oceans and coastal resources can be enjoyed in a sustainable manner for present and future generations. One of its key messages to the global community is the importance of marine resources to a new green economy. Resources on land are becoming scarce and long term provision of extra food is an issue of concern. The Expo aims to foster innovative industries and technologies that use marine resources and energy in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly way. The year 2012 is excellent timing for the Yeosu Declaration, which will be published exactly four decades since the Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment was officially announced in 1972, followed by the Nairobi Declaration of the United Nations Environment Program Governing Council on the State of the Worldwide Environment in 1982, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in 1992, and the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development in 2002. The Yeosu Declaration is a highly relevant and timely endeavor, streamlining reciprocity with the above listed declarations. Moreover, the expo is the first international exposition whose main theme is focusing on the ocean, coasts and islands in international recognition of their role. Millions of people will visit alongside reporters and the press, allowing the expo to have greater impact on education and outreach to the world about oceanic issues. As an intellectual legacy, the declaration will draw unimaginable attention from both ocean and non-ocean communities, children and adults, and scientists and non-scientists. When it comes to credibility as ocean memorabilia, it is a significant milestone for the expo, the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), and for all participants who recognize and value the ocean and coasts. In order to strengthen the technical expertise and to reinforce international recognition of professional knowledge about issues related to the sea, the declaration is being developed by the Drafting and Review Committee, comprised of 53 chartered marine experts from home and abroad including officials from specialized international organizations such as the FAO, GEF, IMO, IOC/UNESCO, OECD, UNDP and UNEP. The committee members have been deeply involved for about 3 years, sharing their expertise in oceanography. The Yeosu Declaration has been reviewed through a number of international and domestic symposiums and forums. The declaration has a three-fold overview of humanity’s relationship with the marine world: 1) The ocean is a planetary treasury but remains mysterious 2) The oceans are under pressure due to human needs 3) The oceans must be kept healthy for future generations. Keywords of Yeosu Declaration The first point emphasizes the importance of the ocean to the Earth's ecosystem and as a source of food and income to billions of people who depend on marine ecosystems for their livelihoods. Furthermore, it underlines the ocean as a conduit for trade and exchange. However, as economies grow and coastal areas become increasingly populated, the ocean and coasts are under increasing stress and demand for more space not only in coastal areas but also on and below the surface of the seas. In addition, because of human influence, climate change is causing sea levels to rise, and glaciers to melt. This might be altering extreme weather patterns, thereby posing serious threats to the health of the ocean and the socio-economic well-being of the people who depend on it. The Yeosu Declaration calls for urgent international cooperation in scientific and technological research and to expand global ocean observation to find ways of reducing natural disasters. Special attention is given to the needs of developing nations including small islands to help address the ocean related challenges they face. In this respect, the Yeosu Project, supporting capacity building in developing countries, is also a major step forward. At the center of the Expo are practical ideas for efficient management and conservation of marine resources such as the invention and implementation of technology for the maintenance of biodiversity and restoration of coastal wetlands. Other main issues being explored at the Expo include finding effective responses to marine pollution, research on technology for handling oil spills in oceans, measures to cut shipping-related greenhouse gas emissions, and ways to deal with marine environmental pollution. The expo organizers, participating countries and international organizations including specialized agencies, 53 drafting and review committee members, and the supporters who agreed to join through SNS and onsite promotion events, which start from the opening to the closing of the event, are joining and supporting the Yeosu Declaration. Though it is non-binding, the wording we used could be universally acceptable. Concrete action The Yeosu Declaration will be read at the Yeosu Declaration Forum scheduled for August 12. It will be held at the Expo Hall, International Pavilion C in the expo site right before the closing ceremony. The forum will be attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the prime minister of the Republic of Korea, the prime minister of Tuvalu, and a general audience of over 700 including national commissioners, drafting and review committee members, marine experts and scientists, students and children, NGOs, and general citizens. During the forum, there will be a panel discussion about the expectations and measures to translate the spirit of the Yeosu Declaration into concrete action. The panel includes experts from international organization such as UNESCO, UNEP, IMO, and the OECD. The outcomes of the Yeosu Declaration Forum will be disseminated worldwide to relevant recipients. The original copy of the will be documented by the BIE. Environment most vital part of Expo Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea seeks to make its contribution to the cause of the environment, particularly in the marine area. In this exercise, what is important is understanding and support of international community for the cause of the Yeosu Declaration and the Yeosu Project which, in a nutshell, aims at enhancing public awareness of the challenges of environmental changes, presentation of ideas and technology for meeting the challenges. Last but not least, reaffirmation of international cooperation in dealing with the grand task through concrete and concerted actions. Planned projects At the center of the Expo are practical ideas for efficient management and conservation of marine resources such as the discovery and implementation of technology for the maintenance of biodiversity and restoration of coastal wetlands. Here are some other main issues being explored at the Expo: Response to marine pollution: Research on technology for handling oil spills in oceans, measures to cut shipping-related greenhouse gas emissions, and ways to deal with marine environmental pollution. Marine environment exploration: Observation of climate and environmental changes and how technology can be used to handle these problems to improve overall management of the coastal environment. Marine safety measures: Development of a real-time coastal marine observation system, early disaster alarm system, and technology for the prevention of harbor-related disasters. Marine technologies Practical use of fisheries resources: Development of deep sea water, utilization of underwater ground water and desalination, and prevention of saline intrusion into ground water. Development of marine biological resources: Research on new materials and marine medicine, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions using sea algae. Utilization of marine mineral resources: Feasibility studies on offshore oil and gas development, and underwater CO2 storage technology. Preservation of fisheries resources: Implementation of technologies for the restoration of biodiversity and the conservation of marine resources, including eco-friendly ecological aquaculture technology and floating aquaculture technology. Advancement of fisheries technology: Development of Smart Fish Aggregating Device (Smart FAD), research on changes in fisheries in relation to rising sea temperatures, and promotion of fisheries technologies and port logistics technologies. Environment info Ocean pollution Pollution in the ocean is a major problem that is affecting the ocean and the rest of the Earth, too. Pollution in the ocean directly affects ocean organisms and indirectly affects human health and resources. Oil spills, toxic wastes, and dumping of other harmful materials are all major sources of pollution in the ocean. People should learn more about this because if people know more about pollution in the ocean, then they will know more about how to stop it. What are toxic wastes? Toxic wastes are poisonous materials that are being dumped into the ocean. They harm many plants and animals in the ocean and have a huge impact on our health. Toxic waste is the most harmful form of pollution to sea life and humans. When toxic waste harms an organism, it can quickly be passed along the food chain and may eventually end up being in our seafood. In the food chain, one toxic organism gets eaten by another, larger animal, which gets eaten by another animal, and can end up being our seafood. Toxic waste gets into seas and oceans by the leaking of landfills, dumps, mines, and farms. Farm chemicals and heavy metals from factories can have a very harmful effect on marine life and humans. When toxic wasteharms an organism, it can quickly be passed along the food chain and may eventually end up being in our seafood. In the food chain, one toxic organism gets eaten by another, larger animal, which gets eaten by another animal, and can end up being our seafood. Jang Do-soo, Ph.D., currently chairman of the Drafting Committee for the Yeosu Declaration, is director of the Center for International Cooperative Programs of the Korea Ocean Research & Development Institute (KORDI). Before Jang was appointed to be in charge of international affairs at KORDI, he had been a senior advisor to the president of KORDI during the period from 2008-2009 in an effort to promote marine scientific research collaborations between KORDI and foreign scientists. Dr. Jang received his Ph.D. in Marine Policy from the University of Delaware in 2000. He received a M.A. degree in Marine Affairs in 1995 and an undergraduate degree in political science in 1991 from the University of Miami.