Science Diplomacy: A Crucible for Turning the Tide in the South China Sea


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When: Sep 30 2020 - 10:00am until Sep 30 2020 - 11:30am
Where: Zoom Webinar

The East-West Center in Washington invites you to the
Indo-Pacific Virtual Seminar Series:

South China Sea Science Diplomacy Boat

Science Diplomacy:
A Crucible for Turning the Tide in the South China Sea


Dr.  Satu P. Limaye (Opening Remarks)
Vice President, East-West Center &
Director, East-West Center in Washington

Professor Paul Arthur Berkman (Keynote Speaker)
 Founding Director, Science Diplomacy Center,
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University


Session One: South China Sea Marine Challenges: Science Perspectives

Dr. John McManus
Director of National Center for Coral Reef Research,
Rosenstiel School, University of Miami

Dr. Nguyen Chu Hoi
Professor of Marine Science and Governance Policy, Vietnam National University &
Chairman, Vietnam Association for Marine Environment and Nature

Dr. Ma Carmen Ablan Lagman
Professor at De La Salle University in the Philippines


Session Two: Science Cooperation Opportunities/Tools and Technologies

Dr. Allen Chen
Research Fellow, Biodiversity Research Center, Taiwan

Dr. Lina Gong
Research Fellow,
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore

Dr. Liana Talaue McManus
Independent Scientist and GEF-UNEP Marine Plastics Project Coordinator

Conclusions and Q&A

Mr. James Borton (Moderator)
Non-Resident Fellow, Tufts University Science Diplomacy Center

Protecting marine environments and ensuring the sustainability of oceans are global issues.  Nowhere are they more important than in the South China Sea. However, disputed territorial claims to the sea by China, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, remain serious threats to ecological security in Southeast Asia. Science diplomacy offers a pathway to address the dispute management process, support collective and cooperative action and inform policy and public understanding of key environmental issues. Characterized by scientific cooperation activities, science diplomacy is contributing to solving many trans-boundary issues among nations that share the same marine waters and in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction. Our webinar panelists recognize that the dual challenges of rising demand from growing populations and economies are on a direct collision course with over-exploitation, pollution, habitat destruction, and climate change. As ecological politics continue to steer the South China Sea narrative, science diplomacy, and engaged public awareness offer hope for protecting coral cathedrals, marine habitats, fish species, and serve as a peace-building mechanism based in scientific cooperation for other similar environmental conflicts.

For Dr. Berkman's PPT, click here. For Dr. McManus' PPT, click here. For Dr. Hoi's PPT, click here. For Dr. Lagman's PPT click here. For Dr. Chen's PPT, click here. For Dr. McManus' PPT, click here


Satu P. Limaye. PhD is Vice President of the East-West Center and the Director of the East-West Center in Washington where he created and now directs the Asia Matters for America initiative and is the founding editor of the Asia Pacific Bulletin. He is also a Senior Advisor at CNA Corp (Center for Naval Analyses) and Senior Fellow on Asia History and Policy at the Foreign Policy Institute at Paul H. Nitze School of International Studies (SAIS). He is magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Georgetown University and received his doctorate from Oxford University (Magdalen College) where he was a George C. Marshall Scholar. Recent publications include: “America’s ‘Pacific Principle’ in an Indivisible Pacific Islands Region,” (Asia-Pacific Bulletin); “Despite Stumbles, America’s Engagement with Southeast Runs Deep,” (Global Asia); Raging Waters: China, India, Bangladesh, and Brahmaputra Water Politics (Marine Corps University Press); and Russia’s Peripheral Relevance to US-Indo Pacific Relations (Center for the National Interest).

Professor Paul Arthur Berkman, PhD is building connections between science, diplomacy and information technology to promote cooperation and prevent discord, balancing national interests and common interests for the benefit of all on Earth. He was a visiting professor at the University of California at the age of 24, after wintering the previous year in Antarctica on a SCUBA research expedition. He was a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar and former Head of the Arctic Ocean Geopolitics Programme at the University of Cambridge, where he co-directed the first formal dialogue between NATO and Russia regarding environmental security in the Arctic Ocean. He also coordinates the Arctic Options and Pan-Arctic Options projects, involving support from national science agencies in the United States, Russian Federation, Norway, France, China and Canada from 2013-2020.  In September 2015, he joined the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University as Professor of Practice in Science Diplomacy and is now Director of the Science Diplomacy Center. 

John W. McManus, PhD is a marine ecologist and Professor at the Rosenstiel School of the University of Miami. He founded ReefBase, the Global Coral Reef Database, and formerly led the global Aquatic Environments Program for the WorldFish Center, based in the Philippines and Malaysia. His work on the fisheries and environmental situation in the South China Sea, and on finding paths to peace and sustainability, has been featured widely in invited talks, and a variety of public media. In 2006, he was recognized by the World Technology Network as among the most innovative people in the world.

Nguyen Chu Hoi, PhD is Retired Associate Professor of Vietnam National University (VNU), former Deputy Administration of Seas and Islands (VASI) and past director of the Haiphong Institute of Oceanology. At present, he is Standing Vice-Chairman of Vietnam Fisheries Society (VINAFIS). His main activity areas are coastal and marine science and governance policy. He was a former national focal person of PEMSEA, COBSEA, IUCN MFF and is a NCB member of UNDP GEF SGP Vietnam. Mr. Hoi received BSc (1974) in VNU, the PhD degree in natural science in University of Warsaw, Poland (1984), professorship in 1996 and academic title of national high-level researcher in 2001.

Ma Carmen Ablan Lagman, PhD led the Population Interdependencies in the South China Sea Ecosystem (PISCES) Project, a concerted effort to determine population structure and connectivity of coral reefs and reef fisheries in the South China Sea.  PISCES involved scientists from 7 countries, with the aim of providing data for regional science-based fisheries management and biodiversity initiatives and policies in the late 1990s when tension was escalating in the area. Dr. Lagman is currently a professor at De La Salle University in the Philippines, where she continues to develop scientific cooperation through joint research, partnerships, and training with colleagues and their research teams in the region.

Allen Chaolun Chen, PhD is Research Fellow at the Biodiversity Research Centre, Academia Sinica, Taiwan. He joint the PISCES project to examine the ecological and genetic connectivity of coral reef associated organisms in the late 1990s, and continued to develop research collaborations with scientists in the Southeast and East Asia region. His currently research focuses on understanding the impact of climate change on the coral reef ecosystem and developing the multidisciplinary approaches and outreach to evaluate coral reef resilience and governance in Taiwan. Dr. Chen also serves as the node coordinator for the volunteer-based Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) in the Southeast/ East Asia.

Lina Gong, PhD is Research Fellow at the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Programme, the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS Centre), S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Her research interests include China-ASEAN relations, non-traditional security studies in East Asia, humanitarian studies, marine environmental protection and global governance.

Liana Talaue McManus, PhD is an independent scientist, coordinating projects funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by the UN Environment Programme. These include initiatives such as “Addressing Marine Plastics: A Systemic Approach” and the Transboundary Waters Assessment Programme, which provided baseline and quantitative-indicator based biophysical, governance and socioeconomic evaluations of the world’s transboundary groundwater systems, lakes, river basins, large marine ecosystems (i.e. coastal waters), and the open ocean. While based at the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute from 1986 to 2000, she implemented projects under the aegis of  three ASEAN Cooperative Programs on Marine Sciences, including those with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on Coastal Resources Management, with Australia on Coastal Living Resources, and with the European Union (EU) on Marine Pollution. She participated as a Philippine marine science expert in numerous South China Sea workshops on managing potential conflicts through marine scientific research and which were facilitated by Ambassador Hasjim Djalal of Indonesia.

James Borton, a foreign correspondent, writes about environmental security issues in Southeast Asia and the South China Sea. He’s a non-resident fellow at Tufts University Science Diplomacy Center and edited the recent titles: The South China Sea Challenges and Promises and Islands and Rocks in the South China Sea: Post-Hague Ruling.


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Name: Sarah Wang
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