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2018 Yancheng statement


Honorable President Zhang, IUCN president, Yuan DAI, Party Secretary of CPC Yancheng Municipal Party CommitteeLubao CAO,Acting Mayor of Yancheng Municipal People’s Governmentdear delegates from People’s Republic of China, dear international participants.  


It is now time to start the closing ceremony for the 2018 Yancheng International Symposium on the Coastal Wetlands of Yellow (Bohai) Sea, Yancheng. This meeting was organised under the leadership of Yancheng municipality with the support of IUCN, EFG and RRC-EA.


This event was also organised under the umbrella of the critically important resolution 26 of IUCN WCC Hawaii on Conservation of intertidal habitats and migratory waterbirds of the West/Yellow Sea, in a global context encouraging urgent action to conserve those special ecosystems.


First of all, participants acknowledge that significant progresses have been made since the last Yancheng workshop.

Those achievements include:

1. the submission in January 2018 of the Phase 1 (Yancheng) of Yellow Sea WH nomination within 12 months of listing;

2. the recent State Council circular which may well be the strongest national commitment to coastal wetland conservation that the world has ever known;

3. the governments of China, North Korea and South Korea agreed to establish a Working Group for the Conservation of the Yellow/West Sea Intertidal & associated coastal Wetlands.  This group, initiated last year in Yancheng met for the first time in Shanghai in July to agree on the terms of reference;


In addition, neighbouring countries contributed to this positive context;

1. It is for example a pleasure to hear that RoK is ready to submit its Phase 1 nomination in the New Year;

2. DPRK, in the last few months has joined Ramsar and EAAFP so that now all 3 Yellow Sea Countries have made the same key international commitments to biodiversity and wetlands conservation;


This year, an equally impressive list of achievements and initiatives was accomplished during the only 2 days of this symposium:

1. an agreement on a China coastal wetlands conservation alliance was made, to coordinate the efforts of all sites in the serial World Heritage nomination (and potentially beyond, including in the other Yellow Sea countries) to complete nomination and implement effective management plans;

2. The guarantee of inclusion of Tiaozini in phase 1 of the proposed World Heritage nomination was announced, ensuring the conservation of what is the most important site for Spoon-billed Sandpiper in the world;

3. A number of Memorandums of Understanding between the Yancheng wetlands institute and International organisations were signed along with the development of a comprehensive list of proposals and ideas to conduct relevant research so the institute can act as research hub for the Yellow Sea;


But despite all this extremely encouraging news, there is still a lot of work that need to be done on the Yellow Sea coast to turn initiatives and ideas into action, if the threatened birds are to have a chance to recover and if the coastal ecosystem services are to be of maximal benefit to people, not only in coastal communities but more widely as well.


Solutions cannot be found at any one level – there needs to be action from site, to province, to national to regional to global levels, involving not only government but businesses, citizens and other stakeholders.  And there are of course lessons to be learnt from other parts of the world which have also had to face balancing economic development with ecological needs.


During the symposium, participants gathered, and brainstormed to issue a list of key recommendations for Yancheng, the Chinese government and international participants to take forward and implement in the next year.


Those recommendations are as follow:


Recommendation 1- Further develop the management plan for the Yancheng, Dongsha and Tiaozini ecosystem and ensure that it becomes a demonstration site exemplary to other national, Yellow Sea, and global sites;


Recommendation 2 - Operationalise the Yancheng Institute, with a local to global remit, to ensure management of Yancheng and other coastal sites is undertaken with proper evidence-based monitoring of what works, including leading to a national/Yellow Sea Spartina eradication programme, assessing the potential impact of wind turbines on birds population and developing  guidance on management of ‘working coastal wetlands’ including shellfisheries, saltpans, aquaculture and rice paddies, for birds and people;


Recommendation 3 - Develop a Sustainable Development Plan for Yancheng that can act as a model for elsewhere on the China coast including the accreditation of Yancheng as a wetlands city, sustainable Working Coastal Wetlands and an eco-tourism trail around the Yellow Sea coast;


Recommendation 4 - Develop Yancheng and China as global leaders in coastal wetland conservation including by i) contributing to flyway conservation and the UNESCO Marine World Heritage programme; ii) triggering dialogues with ROK on the coordinated management of proposed WH sites; iii) playing a leading role in establishment of the proposed CBD/Ramsar/CMS Global ‘Caring for Coasts’ Forum and iv) support and lead site twinning initiatives with neighbouring countries;


Recommendation 5 – Further engage in international events and showcase Yellow Sea coastal wetland conservation success at the EAAFP MOP in December 2018; the second meeting of the Yellow Sea Transboundary Working Group in early 2019; the World Conservation Congress in June 2020 and the Convention for Biological Diversity COP15 in Beijing in October 2020; 


Recommendation 6 – Develop, implement and/or strengthen awareness and outreach programmes at local, national and international levels, emphasizing the importance of the Yellow Sea intertidal wetlands and associated ecosystem services, with a particular focus on policy makers and developers at local, provincial and national levels, using existing Communication, Education, Participation and Awareness (CEPA) programmes.  


Recommendation 7 – Explore the better integration of Yancheng wetlands and other coastal wetlands in National and Global Blue carbon strategies and identify the contribution of those ecosystems in terms of resilience and mitigation to climate change at local, national and global levels including, but not limited to, their contribution to the National Determined Contributions under the Paris agreement;

A more comprehensive version of these recommendations will be provided to Yancheng and China government before the end of 2018 and disseminated on IUCN Global website.

The international and national partners stand ready to accompany Yancheng and the China government in implementing this ambitious programme.