Welcome to WESTPAC

The IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) was established in 1989 by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IOC/UNESCO) to promote international cooperation and to coordinate programmes in marine research, ocean observations and services, as well as capacity building in the Western Pacific and adjacent seas, in order to learn more about the nature and resources of the ocean and coastal areas and to apply that knowledge for the improvement of governance, sustainable development and protection of the marine environment.

WESTPAC currently consists of 22 Member States mainly in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Pacific and the eastern Indian Ocean, with its membership open to all interested Member States of IOC/UNESCO willing to participate actively in the work of the Sub-Commission.

WESTPAC defines its strategic direction based on priority interests of the Member States in the region, and implements its programmes and activities through strong partnerships with national competent agencies, marine scientific institutes, universities and other international organizations or programmes in the region.

Journey to WESTPAC

The history of WESTPAC dates back to 1965 when IOC started with a regional programme in the Western Pacific. The first project involved the Kuroshio project, with 12 countries participating in and supporting joint research into this current which flows from the tropic Pacific northward via the East China Sea towards the North Western Pacific.

Since then, a number of activities have been carried out within the region. In 1977, an IOC Working Group for the Western Pacific was established, through the IOC Resolution X-11, at the 10th Session of IOC Assembly in Paris with regular sessions held since 1979. Over the period of 1981-1989, the Working Group was renamed as “IOC Programme Group for the Western Pacific” (1981-1986) and “IOC Regional Committee for the Western Pacific” (1987-1989) with its activities coordinated by the IOC Headquarters in Paris.

The IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) was established in 1989 at the 15th Session of IOC Assembly, through the IOC Resolution XV-9, as a successive organization of the Regional Committee, with its main task to develop and co-ordinate required regional marine scientific research programmes, ocean observations and services based on priority interests of the Member States in the region and to implement the programmes and activities of the IOC in the regional context.

Since 1994, UNESCO established the IOC Regional Secretariat for WESTPAC (WESTPAC Office) in Bangkok, Thailand through a Host Agreement with the Government of Thailand. WESTPAC Office was initially hosted by the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) from 1994-2004, and subsequently hosted by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) since 2005. For administrative procedures and arrangements, the WESTPAC Office relies on support from the Bangkok-based UNESCO Regional Bureau for the Asia and Pacific (UNESCO Bangkok). The WESTPAC Office has a dual role to fulfil. Firstly, it makes up an arm of the mother organization IOC based in Paris and is instrumental in carrying out IOC global programmes in the region, and secondly it executes the projects and activities agreed upon by WESTPAC Member States. Since late 2006, the Office has been led by Mr Wenxi Zhu.