Side event details
The Yellow Sea coastal ecosystem of intertidal wetlands, associated habitats and the biodiversity that depends on them, is among the ecological wonders of the world. The Yellow Sea is bordered by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (RoK), and represents the largest area of intertidal flats on the planet. It supports a number of vital ecosystem services which underpin socio-economic development, including fisheries, tourism, disaster risk reduction, blue carbon storage and climate change resilience. The Yellow Sea is also the most important staging area for migratory waterbirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF), with millions of waterbirds depending on these wetlands.
The Yellow Sea intertidal wetlands are critically threatened by a range of pressures, particularly by unprecedented rates of conversion—around 66% of intertidal wetlands in the Yellow Sea have been lost in the past 50 years. Consequently, fisheries and other coastal natural resource-dependent livelihoods are at risk, and populations of a number of migratory bird species have recently shown sharp declines.
In 2012, the IUCN Species Survival Commission commissioned an independent report, IUCN situation analysis on East and Southeast Asian intertidal habitats, with particular reference to the Yellow Sea, to assess the status of intertidal habitats along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF). This was developed as a response to concerns expressed by IUCN members of observed declines in biodiversity, the loss of ecological services and an increase in ecological disasters. It served as a reference for governments and organisations engaged in the conservation of intertidal wetlands of the EAAF.
Since 2012, a number of contextual changes have occurred in the Yellow Sea region, including, but not limited to, DPRK ratifying the Ramsar Convention and designating a Ramsar sites on the Yellow (West) Sea, both PRC and RoK succeeding in the inscription on the UNESCO Natural World Heritage List of key Yellow Sea coastal wetlands, with Phase II nominations from both countries underway.
Considering these changes, IUCN members recommended that the 2012 Situational Analysis be updated in 2022. The revised report highlights relevant data and analyses on the Yellow Sea, and presents an overview of the status of the intertidal zone in the Yellow Sea region. This is followed by a set of key recommendations encompassing research, site and species conservation, as well as policy and governance. The situational analysis will support the ongoing implementation of IUCN WCC Resolution 26 on Conservation of intertidal habitats and migratory waterbirds of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, especially the Yellow Sea, in a global context.
This event, supported by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries of the Republic of Korea and facilitated by IUCN and the EAAFP Secretariat, will provide an opportunity for three Ramsar Contracting Parties (PRC, DPRK and RoK), experts and partners from the Yellow Sea region to consider the key results of this updated report and their implications in terms of conservation and management of intertidal wetlands, with a focus on transboundary cooperation. Through a series of presentations and facilitated discussion, the event will identify key priorities for action for 2023-2025. The discussion will link to COP14 Doc.18.19 and COP14 Doc.18.20