International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

7.2 - Yellow Sea Large Marine Ecosystem (YSLME) Partnership with WWF Japan and Panasonic

Highlighted Practices for GEF PMs

The YSLME developed the following key practices that other GEF PMs might replicate:

  • Getting stronger political and economic partners, together with environment experts, in the project to produce meaningful outcomes for the countries in the region.
  • Involving all stakeholders, including the private sector, using scientific and environmental findings.
  • Similar to West Africa discussed below – the YSLME spent a lot of time in engaging NGOs/the private sector to organize coalitions.  The YSLME developed a small grant program (15 to 16 small grants) of $10,000 USD each to assess, for instance, the mariculture techniques and help companies to apply to a seagrass protected area to generate more economic yield while protecting the environment.  The grants provided seed funding.  They identified key experts and prepared documents with support from the project.

In addition, to protect an island in the Yellow Sea which is a native sea cucumber area, the YSLME project partnered with a seafood production company which sold shellfish products in the region.  The company provided the necessary financial resources and the YSLME project provided technical support.  This kind of partnership can be replicated once a key risk to the company and its communities is identified and joint solution is developed by the project in cooperation with the private sector.


YSLME and WWF closely co-operated in implementing biodiversity conservation projects assessing the biodiversity and conservation of the Yellow Sea.   With only one “pot” of funding, the YSLME assessment would have been quite limited; however, by partnering with WWF, YSLME leveraged resources to implement a more comprehensive assessment.

YSLME Case Study Photo

With the strong partnership between YSLME and WWF, became even more influential when Panasonic invested two phases of the project to conserve biodiversity in the Yellow Sea.  The YSLME project organized the first GEF parliamentary conference to discuss the environmental program in the Yellow Sea, as the major management resolutions, e.g. harmonization of legislation, institutional reform and increasing budget, are within the responsibilities of the parliamentary organizations.  The YSLME also focused on legislation harmonization, institutionalized reforming and increasing financial support.  See the IW Experience note concerning the conference at   For more information on the project, please visit


The WWF/YSLME partnership generated strong political support which persuaded Panasonic to contribute $1.8 million USD for biodiversity conservation in the Yellow Sea.  The Panasonic investment assisted in attracting local co-financers to fund a demonstration project in the Yellow River and helped establish close cooperation with provincial government who provided political and technical support. The local government provided 1 M Yuan ($157,621 USD) in cash, which was a 1 to 1 co-finance.


Why did Panasonic invest in biodiversity?  The project helped implement a public awareness strategy – a so-called “green light” to raise the profile of the company.  The parliamentary/government support along with involvement the NGO WWF influenced Panasonic’s approval.   The key stakeholders are the government officials in which Panasonic has interest.


In the first phase, YSLME worked with all the partners in the region to identify the environment problems, and to design and agree on a management plan to address those problems.  The collaborative efforts maximized benefits to the countries in the region, while avoiding duplication of efforts.  One of the examples was that WWF worked to identify key environmental issues in the Yellow Sea and plan to address the issues through a management plan.  Rather than duplicating the effort, WWF used the GEF YSLME SAP.   The organizations/projects worked together to develop criteria for assessment to assess biodiversity features in the region – leveraging the money together – like the assessment covered 15 MPA sites in China and 11 in Korea.

The second phase will offer benefits for both YSLME and WWF Yellow Sea projects supporting the biodiversity conservation project.

Case Study Questions and Answers

What are the key implementation activities to be undertaken?

Project partners worked together to develop criteria to assess the biodiversity features in the region.

Does each partner provide all the additional resources required for the partnership?
WWF and YSLME provided the environmental expertise and Panasonic was able to provide the financial resources in support of the partnership.

What were the private-sector advantages?

The YSLME project helped Panasonic implement a public awareness strategy.  The partnership raised the profile and local credibility of Panasonic and provided access to high-level decision makers in the Ministerial session.

How were the challenges in forming the partnership overcome?

Panasonic was hesitant to invest with only WWF in their Yellow Sea conservation project due to limited influence.  After WWF joined with GEF YSLME, Panasonic contributed $1.8 million USD because the larger partnership would generate stronger political support.