Case Study: PEMSEA, East Asia

Transboundary management issues have been acute in the seas of East Asia. The area bounded by Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam has been under intense environmental pressure.

The degradation of the region has affected the social structures and economies of the region while depleting resources and affecting human health. Because multiple jurisdictions contribute to the scale of environmental degradation, no single government could be successful in fixing the problems.

Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) was established through the United Nations Development Programme/Global Environment Facility as the mechanism of intergovernmental cooperation to sustain the natural, sociologic, and economic vitality of the region and to reverse trends of environmental degradation.

PEMSEA emphasizes a holistic, integrative approach to regional governance of the environment through integrated coastal zone management processes and risk-assessment procedures. It initiates networking between local governments to facilitate expanded capacity-building in the region. Through those efforts, the countries of the region can develop and expand their intellectual capital and educate the public about their role as stewards of their environment.

This successful program required the political will of the constituent countries and an influx of political, monetary, and human capital into the program. Multiple political and social components, including nono-governmental organizations, are partners in PEMSEA. The 2006 evaluation of PEMSEA concludes that it is “a success worthy of close analysis and possible replication.”