The Government needs a comprehensive and efficient information system in order to develop a cohesive mechanism for disaster preparedness management to minimize fatalities. Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili said an understanding of geo-fluid mechanics, chemical and biological aspects of any issues such as climate change is of utmost importance to any Government. These studies are important for the formulation of any strategies and plans for the sustainability of ocean and coastal natural resources, he said in a speech delivered by Deputy Minister Fadillah Haji Yusof .during the seventh International Scientific Symposium of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (Western Pacific) at the Magellan Sutera here yesterday. According to Maximus, with an advanced technology, any natural disasters such as the Cyclone Nargis that hit Myanmar and killed some 130,000 people could be tracked earlier and be monitored. He said the Malaysian Government has allocated RM3, 08 billion in the Ninth Malaysia Plan to commercialise the research and development (R&D) results and Intellectual Properties Protection. The Government recognises the need to translate research findings and program outcomes into innovations and more crucially to generate sustainable wealth from the marine environment to address the issues of food shortages, alternative sources of energy and poverty. “One of the significant programs undertaken is the centralised National R&D funding mechanism i.e. the Intensification of Research in Priority Areas (IRPA) which begins in the Fifth Malaysia Plan,” he said. Maximus said that under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, his Ministry, with the support of its agencies, continues to carry out various programmes to promote R&D and Innovations through several funding mechanisms for research institutions, higher learning institutions as well as private sectors. He said the Ministry supports R&D efforts within five clusters, which are biotechnology, ICT, Industry, Sea to Space (S2S) and S&T services where researches undertaken by various institutions are coordinated by various bodies such as Malaysian Centre for Remote Sensing (MACRES). The symposium, held from May 21-24, features presentations and discussions on issues such as climate change in the Western Pacific region, coastal and offshore processes and their measurement, best practices in marine environmental forecasting and data management, and assessment of the marine ecosystem health, including the economic implications of the marine environmental hazards. Also present at the event were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Yahya Husin who represented Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman, Chairman of IOC/Westpac Dr Hyung Tack Huh, Vice Chancellor of Universiti Malaysia Sabah Prof. Datuk Dr Mohd Noh Dalimin and Chairperson of National Organizing Committee Malaysia for IOC/ Westpac Prof Dr Nor Aieni Hj Mokhtar. The symposium, the first held in Sabah and second in Malaysia, is themed “Natural Hazards and Changing Marine Environment in the Western Pacific”. The Western Pacific Chapter of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC/ Westpac), which comprises 20 countries and a vast area of the Pacific Ocean, addresses current international concerns such as the effects of climate change particularly the devastation on the economies and quality of life of the poorest of communities. The symposium was jointly organized by the National Oceanographic Directorate of Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and Borneo Marine Research Institute of Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) in collaboration with IOC/Westpac of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Culture Organisation (UNESCO).