Marine ecosystems in Southeast Asia (SEA) are characterized by high biodiversity and high productivity. More than 60% of the population in SEA live 60 km from sea, and human society has benefited from marine ecosystem services such as food supply, water purification, preventing tsunami damage and storms, aesthetic and spiritual services. Many different cultures are nurtured by services from healthy ecosystems. However, marine ecosystems have been degraded by human activities and global climate change. Impacts of anthropogenic perturbations are now obvious in various ways, such as marine heat waves, coral bleaching, plastic pollution, decreasing fishery production, and harmful algal blooms. These are looming threats for the sustainability of our society.
In 2017, the United Nations proclaimed a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030, hereafter Ocean Decade). This will ensure ocean science can fully support countries in creating improved conditions for sustainable development of the ocean and to reach the UN Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs), especially for SDG14 “Life below Water”. Our understanding of the status of the Southeast Asia marine ecosystem is still limited. To reach the goals, it is essential to progress marine science studies under international science collaboration and to advance capacity building including the transfer of marine science technology.
Scientists in SEA have been discussed how to progress the Ocean Decade and to reach the goals of SDGs*,** and drafted a recommendation for stake holders and decision makers***. Based on the discussion and recommendation, Core-to-Core CREPSUM was submitted to JSPS, and the proposal was accepted to start the activity form April 2020.