Current Affairs Insight – Diminish the Destruction – Asia-Pacific Afloat

Diminish the Destruction – Asia-Pacific Afloat

Climate change and unsustainable resource management have degraded ecosystems and diminished biodiversity significantly in less than a century. Meanwhile, increasing marine pollution, overfishing, and inadequate governance are jeopardizing sustainable development. But there is no proper data to investigate the solution for this. And the Environmental decline is also affecting the fish stocks. The percentage of stocks fished at unsustainable levels has increased threefold from 10% in 1974 to 33% in 2015.  Moreover, Asia and the States of Pacific have been isolated from the global economy because the most connected shipping economies are in Asia, and the States of Pacific experience lower levels of connectivity. This article gives an insight about the Asia Pacific region, and key measures to diminish the destruction.

Subject wise current affairs insight for UPSC civil service exam (Prelims and mains GS)

Prelims GS & Mains GS1 – Geography

Asia-Pacific region

  • Asia-Pacific region is the part of the world in or near the Western Pacific Ocean which encompasses an enormous variety of climate and topography.
  • According to ECO ASIA Project, the Asia-Pacific region stretches northward to Mongolia, southward to New Zealand, westward to Pakistan, and eastward to the island states of Oceania, which covers 2.8 billion hectares of land area.
  • The countries and islands in Asia-Pacific region are India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, China, Japan, Phillippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, South Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, North Korea, Australia, Bhutan, Soloman Islands, Maldives, Brunei, Vanuatu, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Laos, Singapore, New Zealand, Mongolia, Timor Leste, Fiji, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Samoa, Guam, Kiribati, Micronesia, Tonga, Marshall Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Palau, Chily, Cook Island, Tuvalu, Wallis And Futuna, Nauru, Niue, and Tokelau.
Significance of the region
  • Especially, the Asia-Pacific region has contributed 44% of global GDP.
  • This region has a larger population and stronger economic growth than any other in the world.
  • APR has been the center of attraction for researchers because of its economic and political integrity.
  • Overfishing leads to the marine ecosystem vulnerable.
  • Marine plastic pollution has contributed to most of the debris flooding.
  • Environmental decline affects fish stocks.
  • Asia-Pacific is one of the six ocean hotspots with the biggest mix of species hit hardest by global warming.
Keys to overcoming the problems
  • Collecting proper data
  • Enforcing sustainable shipping policies
  • Promoting green shipping
  • Linking organizations like Trans-boundary ocean management and others to work together
  • Translating international agreements and standards into national action
Maritime zones

The low-tide line forms the baseline for marketing maritime zones. Water landward of the baseline is defined as internal waters over which the state has complete sovereignty. A country’s territorial sea extends up to 12 nautical miles (22.2 km) from its baseline. The contiguous zone is a zone of water extending from the outer edge of the territorial set up to 24 nautical miles (44.4 km) from the baseline.

An Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extends from the baseline to a maximum of 200 nautical miles (370.4 km). A coastal has control of all economic resources within its exclusive economic zone, including fishing, mining, and oil exploration. Everything beyond EEZ is called International Waters or the High Seas. No nation has sovereign rights over this area.

A nautical mile is based on the circumference of the earth and is equal to one minute of latitude which is equivalent to one-sixtieth of a degree of latitude. A nautical mile is a unit of measurement defined as 1,852 meters. Nautical miles are used in Navigational charts.

Important Facts
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world which occupies nearly 46% of the Earth.
  • The average depth of the Pacific ocean is 4,280m.
  • The Asia-Pacific region has stronger economic growth than any other. So, it is called as the ‘growth center’ of the global economy.
  • The speed and scope of urbanization in Asia-Pacific are enormous.

Mains GS2 – International Relations

Relevant Organisations

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

It is a part of the UN organization which is established in 1948 in London. The present Secretary-General is Kitack Lim. It has 174 state members and 3 associate members. The aims of this organization are;

  • Facilitating co-operation among governments on technical matters affecting merchant shipping
  • Preventing marine pollution caused by ships
  • Managing international maritime traffic
  • Maintaining maritime security and environmental concerns
Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nation had been working on sustainable development goals from long back. In 1972, The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held at Stockholm has adopted “sustainability”. In 1980, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has introduced the term ‘Sustainable Development’. The primary goal of this Sustainable Development is to achieve a reasonable and equitably distributed level of economic wellbeing that can be continued for many human generations. In 1992, the UN Conference on Environment and Development published the Earth Charter. It highlights, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. This is known as ‘Agenda 21’ for sustainable development. A set of 17 development goals implemented from 2016 and expected to achieve in the year 2030. Each goal has a specific target. They are;

  1. End Poverty Everywhere
  2. End Hunger
  3. Ensure Healthy Life and Promote Wellbeing for all
  4. Ensure Quality Education
  5. Achieve Gender Equality and Woman Empowerment
  6. Ensure Access to Water and Sanitation
  7. Affordable, Reliable and Clean Energy
  8. Sustainable Economic Growth and Decent Work for all
  9. Sustainable Industrial Development, Infrastructure and Foster Innovation
  10. Reduce Inequality in All Countries
  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  12. Ensure Sustainable Consumption and Production
  13. Action to Combat Climate Change
  14. Life Below Water
  15. Sustainably Manage Land Degradation
  16. Promote Justice, Peace, and Inclusive Society
  17. Partnership to Achieve the Goals
SDG 14: Life Below Water

The main aim of this goal is to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources. The world’s oceans (their temperature, currents, and life) drive global systems that make the earth habitable for humankind. Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future. SDG 14 has the last rank for importance and second last for attention so far paid. So, data are available for only two out of ten targets for the Sustainable Development Goal 14, ‘Life Below Water’.

ESCAP (The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific)

  • The headquarter of the ESCAP is established in Bangkok (Thailand) on 28th March 1947. It serves as the united nations regional hub to achieve inclusive and sustainable development. It has 53 state members and 9 associate members.
  • Initially, ESCAP aims at increasing the economic activity in Asia and the far East, as well as to foster economic relations between the region and areas of the world.
  • In addition to that, it also focuses on social development policies, programs and also preparing for participating in multilateral and regional trade, communication technology, energy, and transport.
  • The overall objective of ESCAP is to promote inclusive and sustainable economic and social development in the Asia-Pacific region, with priority accorded to the implementation of the 203o Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.

Mains GS3 – Environment and Ecology

Marine Plastic Pollution

  • The ocean has a rich amount of useful resources like food, mineral, and energy resources such as coal and oil. But the pollution in the ocean leads to debris and a decline in the sea ecosystem.
  • Plastic pollution is one of the greatest threats to the ocean. Skyrocketing plastic production, low levels of recycling, and poor waste management are some causes that lead 8 to 12 metric tons of plastic to enter the ocean.
  • Asia and the Pacific produce nearly half of global plastic by volume, of which consumes 38%. 
  • Plastics represent a double burden for the ocean: their production generates CO2 absorbed by the ocean and as a final product enters the ocean as pollution.
  • Several organizations like ESCAP, Ocean Accounts Partnership are collaborating to control the marine and coastal pollution.
  • Some countries set up MPA (Marine Protected Area) to protect marine ecosystems and natural habitats. The important MPAs in India are The Gulf of Kutch, The Gulf of Mannar, and the Andamans.

Critical Analysis

While COVID – 19 pandemic has temporarily reduced the emission and pollution on the ocean, this should not be a moment of reprieve. The world is fighting against COVID – 19 and we need the same concern and commitment on the Asia-Pacific matter because this is also the future of the billions of people and species who depend on that. A sustainable world needs a sustainable ocean. Several countries in the region have introduced successful single-use plastic bans. In addition to that, promoting a circular economic approach can also minimize resource use. Meanwhile, ESCAP’s Closing the Loop Project targets sustainable consumption and wastewater management in the Asia-Pacific region. To conclude, it is the need of the day to diminish the destruction.

Important data – snips on “Diminish the Destruction – Asia-Pacific Afloat”

  • Asia-Pacific is one of the six ocean hotspots with the biggest mix of species hit hardest by global warming.
  • The percentage of stocks fished at unsustainable levels has increased threefold from 10% in 1974 to 33% in 2015. 
  • Data are available for only two out of ten targets for the Sustainable Development Goal 14, ‘Life Below Water’.
  • Asia and the Pacific produce nearly half of global plastic by volume, of which consumes 38%.

Click here to know about the UN Sustainable Development Goals.



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