MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Environment and fisheries ministers from six Asia Pacific countries are meeting today to advance their collective agenda for protecting and managing the fragile Coral Triangle―one of the most diverse and threatened marine ecosystems in the world.
The Third Ministerial Meeting of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs Fisheries and Food Security will endorse a plan to establish a permanent secretariat for the initiative in Indonesia.
"The establishment of a permanent secretariat is an important step towards ensuring the success of the initiative and for implementing the regional plan of action," said Jon D. Lindborg, ADB Country Director for Indonesia. "Improved management of coastal and marine resources in the Coral Triangle is critical for ensuring food security, employment, sustainable economic development and increased regional cooperation."
Dubbed the 'Amazon of the Seas', the Coral Triangle covers a vast area of ocean, encompassing all or part of the six member countries of the initiative. It has 76% of all known coral species and its resources provide daily sustenance and employment for over 120 million people. However harmful fishing practices and climate change are threatening the future of this global epicenter of marine biodiversity.
The Coral Triangle Initiative was started in 2007 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands. The Asian Development Bank (ADB), which is a strong supporter of the program, is holding discussions with the ministers and other partners on how to strengthen its impact and effectiveness.
ADB also launched three new knowledge products yesterday, including a 272-page book titled, 'The Coral Triangle' which visually showcases the region's remarkable marine and coastal resources. Published by ADB and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the book documents an 18-month expedition by award-winning photographer Jürgen Freund and Stella-Chiu Freund.
The other products announced at the event include action plans for the Sulu-Suawesi Marine Ecoregion―one of the priority areas of the initiative―and the establishment of a new online portal www.coraltriangleinitiative.net to serve as a knowledge hub for learning and information exchange amongst stakeholders.
ADB has worked alongside the Global Environment Facility and other partners, including the governments of Australia and the United States of America, and international environmental NGOs such as Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, and WWF, to mobilize financial support for the Coral Triangle Initiative. To date, ADB and Coral Triangle countries have been working together to develop five new projects with total funding of about $230 million.