PORT MORESBY, PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Environment and fisheries ministers from six Asia-Pacific countries on Wednesday considered a comprehensive plan to tackle coastal and marine resource degradation in the fragile Coral Triangle ecosystem.
The draft Regional Action Plan for the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) on coral reefs, fisheries and food security provides a framework for Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste to ensure the sustainable management of an area often referred to as "the Amazon of the Seas." The CTI subregion is the epicenter of marine life abundance and diversity on the planet, holding more than 75% of the known corals and over 3,000 species of fish.
"The CTI plan of action represents a major step forward to improve coastal resource management, as these countries must also now adapt to the impacts of climate change," said Thomas Crouch, Deputy Director General of Asian Development Bank's (ADB) Southeast Asia Department at the conclusion of the three-day meeting in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. "The high level of regional cooperation on this issue underscores both its seriousness and the commitment of affected countries to respond."
The draft CTI plan was developed through a series of governmental discussions and stakeholder consultations. It is expected that the plan will be endorsed by heads of state at a CTI Leaders Summit to be hosted by Indonesia in Manado in May. A World Ocean Conference will take place as a prelude to the CTI Summit, and ADB has just announced it will provide technical support at both events.
The Port Moresby meeting also reaffirmed the commitment of CTI Partners to a common cause with the six governments.
Working with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the ADB has served as lead partner for mobilizing financial resources for the program. The other founding partners are the governments of Australia and the United States as well as leading international environmental NGOs, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, and the World Wide Fund for Nature. Several United Nations agencies and other academic and development groups are also involved.
Mobilization of resources to support new activities under the CTI is still ongoing, but it has so far generated commitments or pledges of around US$400 million. The GEF has committed up to $63 million in grants, the United States Government a further $40 million, and ADB and the six signatory governments are expected to contribute new financing in excess of $300 million.