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At the Southeast Asia of Solutions to combat marine plastics on 11 November 2019 at the United Nations regional headquarters in Bangkok, CIL organised and sponsored two sessions ‘State of science and governance: how does scientific research support action to combat marine plastics’ and ‘Governance framework to combat marine plastics’. CIL was represented by Youna Lyons, Vu Hai Dang, Amanda Lim, Yuke Ling Tay and Kanin Laopirun. Ms Lyons chaired and moderated the two sessions. The two sessions attracted audience from the private sector, academia, NGOs, international and regional organisations, and governments. Click here for a full description of the sessions, presentations, posters and an event report summary.

Research fellow Arron N Honniball gave a presentation on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, titled ‘“End” IUU Fishing: Expanding Implementation to Achieve SDG Target 14.4’, at the second edition of the Asia Pacific Day for the Ocean. The event was hosted by UNESCAP and held at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok on 8 November 2019. Dr Honniball also moderated the session on sustainable fisheries.

Associate Director Sharon Seah gave a presentation on the role of the academic sector in climate governance at the International Workshop on Partnership to Strengthen Transparency and Co-Innovation (PaSTI), which was held on 7–8 November in Manila, Philippines. The academic sector possesses institutional capacities, intellectual resources and ability to conduct cutting-edge research. These are strengths that governments and other private sectors can leverage on to increase climate transparency and promote greater climate ambition.

The workshop was organised by the Ministry of Environment, Japan in collaboration with the World Resources Institute. The workshop’s aims are to share knowledge and build networks among ASEAN participants, international institutions, experts and the private sector to develop critical tools for Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) development in the region. 

Postdoctoral Fellow Neha Mishra presented her paper titled ‘International Trade Law and Data Ethics: Possibilities and Challenges’ at the 6th Biennial Asian Economic Law Network Conference. The conference was held in Taipei on 25–27 October and was organised by National Tsing-Hua University; Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan; Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences, National Tsing Hua University; and The Erasmus+ Program of the European Union.

Ms Mishra argued that the inherent tension between promoting data/digital innovation and ensuring ethical data management is likely to surface in international trade law, and is particularly prominent when data restrictive measures are examined under exceptions in international trade agreements. This tension appears irresolvable due to the technological uncertainty surrounding the future evolution and uses of AI and Big Data and the absence of international norms on data governance. Although international trade law cannot directly resolve these tensions, trade policymakers should remain open and responsive to relevant policy dialogues on data governance in various governmental and multistakeholder fora. Ms Mishra argued that by doing so, international trade law can play a more proactive and transformative role in dealing with ethical issues in data governance—addressing not only infrastructure-related issues (eg, access to telecommunications networks) but also regulatory concerns such as facilitating international cooperation on data policies, supporting internationally recognised internet standards, promoting fair competition and transparency in domestic data policies, and ensuring digital inclusion of developing countries. Trade rules should also not require countries to compromise on their data policies necessary for ethical reasons so as to participate in global digital markets. Although these outcomes appear ambitious, the ongoing dialogues at WTO on electronic commerce provide an opportunity to generate political goodwill and enhance cooperation among countries to achieve these results.

Senior research fellows Youna Lyons and Vu Hai Dang presented at the 4th Fisheries Management and Management Environmental Protection Workshop organised by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue and the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute in Manila, Philippines, on 24 October 2019. The meeting discussed the establishment of a network of marine protected areas in the SCS.

At the workshop, Ms Lyons presented a mapping exercise of all marine protected areas and ecologically sensitive areas that have been established by coastal countries in the SCS, based on applicable international instruments and publicly available data from WDPA. Dr Dang presented options to support the development of a network of marine protected areas in the South China Sea.