Statement at the CTI Leaders Summit

Statement by C. Lawrence Greenwood, Jr., ADB Vice President, Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) Leaders Summit,  Manado, Indonesia

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

ADB is honored to be participating in the first CTI Summit. As you are aware, the ADB has recently completed its 42nd Annual Meeting in Bali, and I would like to thank His Excellency, President Yudhoyono and the people of Indonesia for their warm hospitality on that occasion as well as this one here in beautiful Manado. At our Annual Meeting, stakeholders and management reaffirmed the priority we place on addressing threats to the environment and the impact of climate changeon sustainable economic development in the Asia-Pacific region. The global economic downturn in no way diminishes that commitment and theenvironment remains a key strategic pillar of the ADB 2020 Strategy.

The Coral Triangle Initiative — or CTI — started less than two yearsago, with the strong support of Indonesian President Yudhoyono, tocreate a platform for coordinated action in response to the collective threats facing the coastal and marine resources and people of the Coral Triangle. These threats include climate change, overfishing, theuse of destructive fishing methods, water pollution, and other strainson these fragile and globally significant ecosystems.

The process by which neighboring countries developed the CTI Regional Plan of Action and its associated national plans are a remarkable demonstration of how regional cooperation in pursuit of mutual interests can benefit all involved. The Asian Development Bank strongly supports such regional cooperation, and we are pleased to have helped facilitate this process — of which today's summit is an historic step.

At the First Senior Officials Meeting in Bali, held in December 2007, ADB was asked to serve as lead agency in helping the six countries gain access to resources from the Global Environment Facility, or GEF. We have taken up this challenge and have actively engaged not only with the GEF but with other partners to encourage technical and financial contributions to the CTI. To date, financial commitments exceed $350 million, and we expect these to grow.

ADB’s core support to the CTI includes three regional projects to provide technical assistance and support demonstration activities in the Pacific, in Southeast Asia and across the Coral Triangle. We have been pleased to provide support as well for several CTI sessions during the World Ocean Conference. These new efforts build on a foundation of ongoing coastal investment projects in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, including the Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Management Project in Indonesia, and the Integrated Coastal Resources Management Project in the Philippines.

In this year of negotiations on a new climate change agreement, countries around the world are looking beyond the current economic downturn to the growing threats from global warming. This has been a major topic of discussion here in Manado, but it is clear that we still have much to learn about the complex roles played by coastal and marine ecosystems in moderating our climate and providing resilience against climate change. The environment and the impacts of climate change was a priority issue discussed at ADB's recent Annual Meeting in Bali, and we believe the CTI summit in Manado will accelerate momentum and commitment for sustainable coastal and marine resource management in the region.

One thing is very clear from this discussion and that is that the challenges we face in conserving and nurturing coastal marine resources cannot be resolved by national governmental action alone. There is a need to set in place strong coordination mechanisms among development partners and CT governments to ensure that programs underpinning CTI are mutually supportive and consistent with the priorities enunciated in the national and regional plans of action. The ADB stands ready to facilitate donor coordination in whatever way CT countries desire.

Finally, we are very much impressed at the top-level commitment of the leaders of the CT-6 to the CTI, even in the face of a global slowdown. In fact, the global recession reinforces the need for better management of the region's coastal and marine resources. There are millions of jobs at stake and billions of dollars of both local currency and foreign exchange earnings under threat — roughly $3 billion is earned annually from fisheries in the six countries, and nearly as much from coastal tourism. The new resources we have mobilized to support implementation of the CTI should be viewed as part of a "green stimulus package" for these countries. By investing in better management of coastal and marine resources, it is not only the world's greatest treasure of marine organisms that will be protected, but jobs, livelihoods and food security.

Now, more than ever, stronger policy measures and institutions – coupled with investments — are needed to sustain and protect the vital resources of the Coral Triangle, and ADB stands ready to support you in these endeavors.

Thank you, terimah kasi