Views on Marine Science and Technology
The Delegation of the People's Republic of China
Developing Marine Science and Technology
To Promote Sustainable Development
The 21st century is an era for the ocean, a new century when man will devote greater effort to understand, develop and protect the ocean and the ocean will play a more and more important role in the development of human society and economy. To thoroughly understand the ocean, rationally exploit marine resources, effectively protect the marine environment and achieve sustainable development of the marine environment and its resources have become important tasks for coastal States.
For man, the ocean is still full of numerous uncertainties. To know the ocean, to utilize the ocean and to conserve the ocean is an undertaking which has great difficulty and high risk, and cannot be carried out without the support of science and technology. Science and technology constitutes an important basis for sustainable development. Marine science and technology is essential for enhancing man's knowledge of the natural processes of the ocean, it may provide scientific basis for decision-making on sustainable development, help to improve integrated coastal management, improve the utilization of marine resources, and provide effective means for the protection of the marine environment and for the conservation of marine resources.
The United Nations is an organization highly valuing the importance of marine science and technology. The UN has made great achievements in promoting the development of marine science and technology, especially over the past decades. "The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea "clearly stated that it is important for coastal States to promote and facilitate the development of marine science and technology. "Agenda 21 "adopted by the UN Conference on Environment and Development highlights the importance of sustainable development of coastal and marine areas. It stresses that sciences are increasingly understood as an essential component in the search of feasible pathways towards sustainable development. The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development pointed out in its No 7/1 Resolution that understanding the marine environment scientifically, including the marine living resource and the effects of pollution, is extremely important to proper decision-making. The statement on marine science and technology in UN documents is of far-reaching guiding significance to all coastal States in developing marine science and technology and promoting the sustainable development of the ocean. Over the past decades, UN agencies have sponsored and organized a series of marine scientific and technological programs. The implementation of these programs has played an essential role in promoting the development of marine science and technology of the world. Beginning from last year, the UN Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea has listed marine science and technology as one of the topics for consultation. This will exert very positive and far-reaching influence on the development of marine science and technology on a worldwide basis.
In order to further promote the progress of marine science and technology and to solve some major problems in understanding, utilizing and protecting the ocean, and to help achieve sustainable development of the marine environment and its resources, the Chinese delegation would like to make the following suggestions:
1. In the spirit of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and other relevant conventions and conferences, UN agencies concerned should, in light of the needs of global social, economic and environmental development of the world, prepare guidelines for developing marine science and technology. These guidelines will give macro guidance to all countries in developing their marine science and technology. States should, by taking the specific conditions of their own country into account, draw up programs and plans for developing marine science and technology, by following the guidelines made by the UN.
2. States should be encouraged to formulate laws, regulations and prepare preferential policies to promote the development of marine science and technology, and to increase funds input for developing marine science and technology so as to bring marine science and technology into the orbit of rapid and orderly development. In order to help coastal States to do this, the UN agencies concerned should compile collections of such laws, regulations and policies already prepared by major coastal States and make these collections available to those States that do not have such laws, regulations and policies. And the UN organs concerned may organize training courses through which to help States gain access to knowledge and experiences of formulating such laws, regulations and policies.
3. Intensifying and giving full play to the role of the relevant organizations within the United Nations responsible for marine science and technology affairs in planning, guiding and coordinating the global, regional and national marine scientific research projects. IOC/UNESCO, since its founding in 1960, has been heavily involved in inter-governmental ocean scientific affairs, has played a positive role in promoting and coordinating international programs on marine science and technology, and have greatly contributed to progress of marine science and technology. The function of IOC should be further strengthened so as to meet the needs of global marine scientific and technological development in the new era.
4. Improving the coordination between UN organizations responsible for marine science and technology affairs and other ocean-related organizations, programs and projects within the United Nations so as to avoid unnecessary overlapping and duplication to improve utilization of financial, human and material resources available. The UN organs concerned should hold annual meetings to explore possibilities of improving coordination among various marine programs and projects and to discuss problems concerning the division of responsibilities and cooperation among them.
5. Marine scientific and technological programs sponsored by the UN system should focus on key areas of global interests and serve the social and economic development of the world as well as the improvement of the environment. Efforts should be made to support marine scientific researches having positive effects on the benefits of all States. These researches should deal with such issues as: impact of the ocean on climate change, conservation of marine biodiversity, exploration and exploitation of marine resources including deep-sea biological genetic resources, and marine environment protection. Financial and material resources should be pooled to support a few key global-scale research projects so as to address problems that are of interest to most countries. Great efforts should be made to support some regional demonstration projects of the ongoing international programs.
6. Bilateral cooperation is an important channel for promoting the progress of marine science and technology. It is, therefore, necessary to encourage bilateral cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, especially the cooperation between the developed and the developing countries. In regions with favorable conditions, multilateral cooperation on a regional basis should be encouraged. Apart from the traditional forms of cooperation such as personnel exchange and training courses, joint research centers may be established to study issues of common interests. Modern communication and computer technologies may be employed to build joint virtual laboratories.
7.TEMA programs of the United Nations should be further strengthened. It is important to promote the dissemination of knowledge on marine science and technology and to enable more people working in the field of marine science and technology in developing countries to gain access to new knowledge and grasp new skills.
8. Practical and feasible plans for capacity building should be developed to help developing countries. At present, capacities urgently needed by most developing countries are those for marine scientific research; marine environment observation and monitoring; marine resources survey and exploitation, and marine environmental protection. Capacity building in developing countries may be improved by establishing marine scientific research centers provided with necessary equipment, skills and expertise. These research centers should be encouraged to play an active role in their own country and in the region where they are located. Demonstration centers may be established in countries where favorable conditions are available. When enough experience is gained, more such centers may be built in other parts of the world.
9. Marine science and technology should serve decision-making of governments and be incorporated into the development plans of States. A special agency within the government should be designated to take charge of marine scientific and technological affairs. A marine data and information center should set up in each country. These centers, apart from storing marine scientific and technological information, should collect and store marine scientific research results and research findings so as to make them accessible by government organizations and used in decision-making. It is necessary to develop schemes for sharing marine scientific and technological research findings. All the results of research projects funded by the State should be made available to the Government gratis, provided that intellectual property rights are properly protected.
10. Transfer of marine science and technology, especially the transfer from the developed countries to the developing countries, should be promoted. Effective measures should be taken to alter the existing status of very slow-progress in marine science and technology transfer. UN agencies concerned should prepare marine technology transfer plans and programs, and coordinate global and regional marine technology transfer activities in the spirit of the United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea. Regular seminars or workshop should be held on a global basis to provide a forum for discussing issues related to marine science and technology transfer and for exchanging experiences.
The ocean is an integral whole. The development of marine science and technology relies on close collaboration and interaction of States on a global basis. Therefore, the exchange of information and experiences among States, including that between the developed States and the developing States, is of great importance. China, as a developing country, has gained some experiences and is also confronted with some problems. Since the 1980s, China's marine science and technology has developed rapidly, great achievements have been made in the fields of coastal and ocean survey, oceanographic research, R&D and application of new and high ocean technologies.
In the new century, China's social and economic development will rely more and more on the ocean, which will result in very frequent activities of developing and utilizing marine resources and pose great pressure on the marine environment. In order to rationally exploit marine resources and protect the marine environment, it is an imperative task to vigorously develop marine science and technology. To achieve sustainable development and to make marine science and technology contribute more to China's social and economic development, China will continue to implement the "Ocean-related Hi-tech Program", "Program for Tackling Key Problems in the Filed of Marine Science and Technology", "Program of Revitalizing Ocean-related Industries by Relying on Science and Technology" and "Program for Developing Basic Oceanographic Research and Other Basic Work". Great efforts will be made to promote the development of marine high-technologies, ocean-related appropriate technologies, basic oceanographic research and applied research so as to speed up the application of research results to marine and ocean-related operations and industries, to serve the rational exploitation of marine resources, effective protection of the marine environment and to ensure the safety of offshore operations.
In view of the specific conditions of China and in light of the experiences gained, China intends to place more emphasis on the following priority areas that have close connection with China's economic and social development in the near future:
1.Observation, research and prediction of coastal natural hazards
China is a country affected frequently by marine disasters, mainly including storm surge, huge sea-wave, red tide, sea-ice, and seawater intrusion. Over the past ten years, the economic loss caused by coastal disasters is, on average, around 15 billion RMB per year in China. To observe, study and predict the marine environment is an important basis for the reduction and mitigation of marine disasters. Technologies for coastal observation and environmental prediction need to be urgently improved, and study on coastal hazards has to be enhanced.
2. Integrated Coastal Area Management
The land area of China's coastal provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government occupies 15% of China's total land area while the population of the coastal area is over 40% of the national total. The rapid movement of population towards the coastal area and the development of industry there have created great pressure upon the coastal area's environment and resources. Conflicts are becoming more and more evident among various sectors using the coastal area. Integrated management of the coastal areas and the jurisdictional waters is highly important for ensuring a sustained, rapid and healthy development of the economy and the society. Science and technology are important for decision-making on integrated coastal zone management and the implementation of management strategy. Therefore, research on environment, resources, human activities and the interactions among these factors will be enhanced for promoting integrated coastal zone management.
3. Marine environment protection
The Chinese government attaches great importance to marine environment protection. A National marine environmental monitoring network and research institutions for marine environment protection have been created. Science and technology for marine environment protection has become one of the important parts of the National Program for Developing Science and Technology.
As a result of the rapid development of agriculture and industry in the coastal area, the marine environment is facing great pressure. The water quality in waters around estuaries, bays and adjacent to big cities, especially in semi-closed bays, has exhibited a declining trend. It is an imperative task to enhance scientific and technological research related to the control of land-based pollution. In comparison with land-based pollution, the pollution of the marine environment caused by man's activities at sea is more complex and it is more difficult to control and monitor. Therefore, great attention should also be paid to pollution from sea-based activities.
4. Ocean farming and Fishery
China is a country with huge population and limited arable land. Therefore, it is of great significance to obtain food from the ocean. In China's vast shallow sea area, over 20% is suitable for aquaculture and reproduction. A considerable size of ocean farming area could be developed to produce a large amount of sea products and food. China will devote major efforts to scientific and technological research on ocean farming and ranching, particularly technologies for the selection and reproduction of fine breeds, disease-control and prevention, aqua-culture and ranching in sea water, optimization of the ecological environment of the culturing areas, fine-processing of marine organisms and marine pharmaceuticals.
Over 90% of China's annual fishery catch is from the coastal waters of China. Some of the major problems in China's marine fishery include: the artificial alteration of resource structure of the commercial fishes due to over-fishing; and the outward movement of some important larval and spawning grounds due to the deterioration of water quality in some areas around the coast and estuaries. Efforts should be made to conduct scientific and technological research on the improvement of the coastal marine environmental quality, the law of quantitative fluctuation of fishery resources and the migration pattern of important fish species, the restoration of some traditional commercial fishery species, effective control of catching effort, etc. Scientific and technological research should also be enhanced to support the development of pelagic fishery industry.
4. Seawater utilization
Direct use of seawater and desalination are of particular importance to China, as China is a country short of water supply. China's per capita water resource is only 1/4 of the world average. In some areas, especially in the coastal areas, water shortage is extremely serious and has affected people's daily life and the development of economy. To utilize seawater is one of the important solutions to water shortage problem. Therefore, Scientific and technological research on seawater utilization is of great significance to China.
The priority areas stated above are areas where China has had and is going to have major problems in the course of its future development. Some other developing countries may have or will have similar problems. The international community should enhance cooperation in these fields.
Over the past decades, China has actively participated in a series of important programs sponsored or co-sponsored by IOC/UNESCO and other UN agencies, such as the Integrated Global Ocean Services System (IGOSS), the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) and the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). China has also participated in a number of regional projects sponsored by UNDP and GEF. In addition, China has fruitfully conducted bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the field of marine science and technology with the United States, Japan, Republic of Korea, Germany, France, Canada, Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Russia, and is continuing to develop cooperative relationship with various coastal States and international organizations.