Ten years since the publication of the Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) for the Arafura and Timor Seas (ATS) Region which provided the technical basis for the 10-year ATS Strategic Action Programme (SAP), the process for its updating was kickstarted through a 2-part Inception Workshop. Updating of the TDA, and later the SAP, are among the key targets in the GEF/UNDP/PEMSEA ATSEA-2 Project considering developments and changes that may have occurred in the ATS region over time with regard to governance, ecological and socioeconomic conditions, priority issues at the national and regional levels, as well as relevant international commitments and targets of Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Timor-Leste, the four littoral countries in the region.

Part 1 of the Inception Workshop was held virtually on 10 February 2022, participated by the following: 1) Lead TDA Specialist (Prof. Karen Edyvane) who is responsible for coordinating the regional updating effort and writing of the TDA document; 2) National TDA Consultants for Indonesia (Center for Coastal and Marine Resources Studies – IPB University), PNG (Aqua Marino Services) and Timor-Leste (PEC Consulting LDA) who will support primary and secondary data gathering and preparation of country synthesis reports that will feed into the TDA updating; 3) ATSEA-2 National Project Directors/Focal Points (NPD/NFP) and designated representatives for Indonesia (Center for Fisheries Research, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries) and PNG (National Fisheries Authority); and counterpart ATSEA-2 National Coordination Units (NCUs); 4) ATSEA-2 National Focal Point (NFP) for Australia (Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment); and 5) ATSEA-2 Regional Project Management Unit (RPMU).  The workshop provided an orientation on the Global Environment Facility (GEF) TDA and SAP process, and the discussions led to a shared understanding of the TDA updating work plan and timeline, roles and responsibilities of key participants including the TDA Specialist, National TDA Consultants, cross-sectoral and multi-disciplinary National Working Groups (NWGs) which will be established to help facilitate country inputs into the TDA process, and a Regional Working Group (RWG) that will provide the regional and transboundary perspective. The workshop also agreed on the outlines of the country synthesis report and the updated TDA.

Thus far, with guidance from the TDA Specialist and support of the RPMU and NCUs, the National TDA Consultants have progressed with their desktop review and rapid assessment of available data and information for the preparation of country synthesis reports, including key data gaps that may need collection from the field. The NPDs for PNG and Timor-Leste have also established their respective NWGs, while the NPD for Indonesia and NFP for Australia are in the process of doing so.  

Part 2 of the Inception Workshop, which is scheduled on 25 April 2022, will bring back the participants from the first workshop together with the NWGs to discuss the results of the desktop review and seek feedback and inputs especially from the NWGs, discuss the roles and activities of the NWGs and RWG, and revisit the work plan and timeline for undertaking the data analysis, preparation of country synthesis and other thematic reports, conduct of TDA workshops, and preparation and review of the updated TDA.

The updating of the ATS TDA is a major undertaking of ATSEA-2 for 2022, which technically and organizationally, will provide the foundation for the updating of the ATS SAP and the ATS countries’ shared targets and commitments for the sustainable development of the ATS region. ATSEA-2 will endeavour to ensure the appropriate balance of scientific inputs and stakeholder perspectives in the TDA and SAP updating processes.

(by Cristine Ingrid Narcise)