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Coral Triangle Leaders Declare Action to Protect Marine Resources for People's Well-being

Plan of Action is critical to the income, livelihoods and food security of more than 120 million people who depend on healthy marine ecosystems

Washington, DC, May 15, 2009 – A new, six-country Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI) was launched today at a Leaders’ Summit in Manado, North Sulawesi; a series of new commitments by the six governments to an unprecedented cooperative effort to safeguard the world’s richest marine resources and ensure the income, livelihoods and food security for millions who depend on these resources.

In their Leaders Declaration, the Presidents and Prime Ministers of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste formally adopted one of the most comprehensive and specific plans for ocean conservation. The 10-year Regional CTI Plan of Action sets time-bound steps to address growing threats to the region’s coral reefs, fisheries, mangroves, threatened species and other marine and coastal living resources.

This Initiative recognizes the urgent need to address the poverty afflicting the people of the Coral Triangle countries, in particular the coastal communities, and to meet relevant internationally agreed development goals, including the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. All six leaders also recognize the urgency of a strong climate change
focus to this important Initiative.

Covering only 2% of the world’s ocean, the Coral Triangle contains 76% of all known coral species. It is also brimming with an extraordinary variety of fish due to this high coral diversity. Over 120 million people directly depend on the bounty of these seas for their food and income. The value of fisheries, tourism and shoreline protection from coral reefs, mangroves and associated habitats is estimated at US$2.3 billion annually. This area also supports the largest tuna fisheries in the world, which generate billions of dollars in global income every year. Healthy reef systems help buffer coastal communities from severe storms and tsunamis. 

Protection of reefs and mangroves in the Coral Triangle will be vital to help people adapt to increasing storm severity, an effect of climate change. These precious marine resources are threatened by overfishing, illegal fishing, unsustainable coastal development, pollution and climate change. All these threats are leading to depleted fish stocks, large-scale loss of mangroves and degradation of coral reef systems.

Conservation International (CI), The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and WWF, congratulate and welcome the leaders' declaration to address the threats to the marine, coastal and small island ecosystems within the region. The three NGOs are strongly committed to support the countries in achieving their priority goals as stated in their Plans of Action.

Conservation International’s Chairman and CEO, Peter Seligmann, said “in 30 years of conservation work, I have never seen anything like this; six leaders signing a commitment to protect their marine resources for the well-being of their citizens and future generations. We extend our deepest congratulations and commit to supporting these nations as they embark
on this unprecedented global initiative to secure human livelihoods and adapt to climate change through the conservation of their individual and shared marine heritage.” 

TNC’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, Roger Milliken Jr., said “we are inspired by the bold vision of the CTI and the significant commitments that the six leaders made today. Our continued engagement, building on nearly two decades of conservation in this region, with governments, regional institutions and local communities we hope will contribute to this extraordinary initiative for the benefit of nature and people living in this region and beyond. ”

The Summit was followed by a “Partners Dialogue” with the six Coral Triangle governments, at which a large number of donor governments, international funding agencies, nongovernmental organizations, community-based organizations, private foundations, private sector companies, and others expressed their intentions to support the implementation phase of this Initiative.

“WWF urges world leaders meeting at the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen later this year to support Coral Triangle countries in their efforts to protect their most vulnerable communities from the impacts of climate change and the loss of food and livelihoods”, said WWF Director General James P. Leape. “Reaching a strong agreement on greenhouse gas reductions is critical as is robust support for regional adaptation. The transformational CTI Plan of Action provides a framework for engaging the private sector in adaptation through public private partnership", added Mr. Leape. 

The three organizations look forward to continuing to support the countries of the Coral Triangle in an effective and collaborative manner.

Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and WWF are working together with other NGOs, bi- and multi-lateral agencies and governments around the world to support regional governments, businesses and communities to conserve the marine treasures and resources of the Coral Triangle for the benefit of all.