Coral Triangle Communities Get Support for New Green Businesses

News Release | 3 November 2011

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Coastal communities in remote areas of the Coral Triangle in Indonesia and the Philippines will receive Asian Development Bank (ADB) support to start small, green businesses that will help preserve one of the most diverse and threatened marine environments in the world.

A $2 million grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, administered by ADB, will help poor fishing households in Berau District in East Kalimantan, Indonesia and Balabac in Palawan, the Philippines, identify, establish and operate eco-friendly businesses that could potentially include seaweed culture, fish processing, boat transport services and livestock rearing.

"Families who rely on fishing for survival are facing increasing threats from overfishing and climate change," said Marilou Drilon, Natural Resources and Agriculture Economist. "Helping them develop alternative businesses will improve their standard of living, and also give them a stake in protecting marine resources in the Coral Triangle."

The Coral Triangle, known as the 'Amazon of the Seas', is spread across 14.7 million square km of ocean, encompassing six countries in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, including Indonesia and the Philippines. It has 75% of all known coral species on earth, and its resources are critical for the economic and food security of an estimated 120 million people.

Harmful fishing practices and climate change are putting a huge strain on the Coral Triangle's environment. Income losses from overfishing in coral zones in the Philippines alone are estimated at $1.2 billion over 20 years, and losses linked to climate change-induced coral bleaching across Southeast Asia are calculated at $38.3 billion.

Experts will work with the communities to establish new livelihood activities, operating under an innovative profit and risk sharing mechanism. This structure will provide incentives to ensure that businesses are financially viable and environmentally sustainable, while helping to minimize risks faced by poor households.

Approximately 550 households in up to 14 coastal villages are earmarked to receive technical skills training and financial assistance, including many headed by women and indigenous people. Business partnerships between project beneficiaries and the private sector will also be established to help expand households' access to microfinance and marketing opportunities.

The project, which is due to run for three years to 2014, complements other ADB-supported Coral Triangle-related activities in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. The Coral Triangle Initiative, which was endorsed by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands in 2009, lays out a plan of action to preserve and manage marine resources. ADB has played a major role in promoting the initiative and is coordinating financial and technical support.