On 10 November 2022, the World Estuarine Cities Conference for Cooperation and Development was successfully held in Dongying City, Shandong Province. The conference is co-sponsored by Shandong Provincial People’s Government, Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, Yellow River Water Conservancy Commission of the Ministry of Water Resources of China, and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). With the theme of “Embrace the Sea for a Shared Future”, the conference aims to promote exchanges, mutual learning and cooperation among the world’s estuarine cities.
The conference consisted of an opening ceremony, a main forum and five parallel forums, among which the opening ceremony and the main forum were held in a hybrid format with in-person and online participants. Mr. Qingli Zhang, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and Mr. Ganjie Li, Secretary of the CPC Shandong Provincial Committee, attended and delivered speeches at the opening ceremony, witnessed by major government leaders of Shandong Province and Dongying City, diplomatic envoys of other countries in China, representatives of international organizations, and officials of the host organizations and partners.
Ms. Susan Gardner, Director of UNEP’s Ecosystems Division, addressed the opening ceremony on behalf of UNEP. She pointed out that estuaries were the rainforests of our ocean, and despite their importance, estuaries were on the front line of our triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and rampant pollution. She recommended we must support the global instrument to end plastic pollution, adopt the post 2020 global biodiversity framework, and stimulate public and private blue finance, so as to ensure economic circularity from source to sea and sufficient investment in nature-based solutions to protect estuaries.
Ms. Susan Gardner delivering video speech at the opening ceremony
The conference released several research outcomes and cooperation projects, announced the Dongying Initiative on Cooperation and Development of World Estuarine Cities and launched the World Estuarine Cities Partnership. As one of the co-organizers of the conference, Ms. Linxiu Zhang, Director of the UNEP-IEMP and her team attended the opening ceremony and the main forum online.