The IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) initiated in 2008 the “Development of a Regional Network of Training and Research Centers (RTRCs)”, aiming to improve regional capability and capacity on marine science in a sustainable and systematic manner, through the establishment of regional training and research centers in national oceanographic institutes or universities, and provision of regular training and research opportunities on their domains of focus to early career scientists within and outside the region. It employs a co-design and co-development approach to capacity development in order to suit the needs of stakeholders. This initiative has been recognized as a best practice in the region for capacity development and transfer of marine technology.

The initiative of “Development of a Regional Network of Regional Training and Research Centers was initiated at the 7th Intergovernmental Session (WESTPAC-VII) on 26-29 May 2008 in Sabah, Malaysia, and endorsed by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) at its Forty-first session of the IOC Executive Council (IOC/EC-XLI, 24 June-1 July 2008, Paris, France).

The level of support to this initiative was expressed by the strong willingness of a wealth of countries in the region. Two RTRCs have been established, respectively on Ocean Dynamics and Climate in 2010 at the First Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Natural Resources of China, and on Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health (MarBEST) in 2017 at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences.

Another three RTRCs are currently being established: i. on Reef Management and Restoration at the University of the Philippines - Marine Science Institute; ii. on Marine Toxins and Food Safety at the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology - Institute of Oceanography; and iii. on Plastic Marine Debris and Microplastics at the East China Normal University.

This side event will communicate to all IOC Member States and stakeholders a best practice in capacity development and transfer of marine technology in the Western Pacific, solicit suggestions and inputs for further capacity development, and demonstrate Member States’ commitment to the implementation of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).