Philippine President Gloria Arroyo Meets with NGO’s, Public and Private CEOs and Officials to Discuss Global Food Security and Sustaining the Resources of SE Asia’s 'Coral Triangle'

Washington, D.C. - On Monday, June 23rd President Gloria Arroyo of the Philippines, together with World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International held a luncheon with CEOs and top officials of various public and private organizations, to enlist their support of Coral Triangle Initiative, which the President and her country are founding members of.

President Arroyo set the tone by giving an impassioned speech about the critical importance of the environment, in particular the marine environment of the Coral Triangle, to the future of her people. The President’s speech was followed by an inspiring talk from her Secretary of Agriculture, Arthur Yap, on the unique value of the Coral Triangle and all of the resources sourced from the region by the rest of the world including tuna, shrimp and crab. Next, Chris Lishewski, the CEO of Bumble Bee Foods spoke about the fate of tuna, up to 80% of which spawns in the waters of the Coral Triangle, and finally, Carter Roberts, the President and CEO of WWF declared, in his speech, that he believes the Coral Triangle Initiative to be the most important conservation effort on the earth today.

After the speeches the room was buzzing with discussions, not only on “why” to get involved, but “how.” The CEO of Century Tuna, the Philippines largest canner (with plants in Papua New Guinea as well), who supplies to Bumble Bee, reaffirmed the steps his company, and industry were already taking with the creation of coalitions for sustainability. Phillips Seafood’s Mars, Inc. CEOs spoke of creating councils and sustainability conferences with their local producers who work on the ground in the region.

The luncheon, held at the Willard Hotel in Washington, was well attended with not only the CEOS and top executives from the three NGO hosts, and the CEOs from Bumble Bee Foods, Phillips Seafood, Mars, Inc. and Century Tuna. The U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie A. Kenney was in attendance as was the Deputy Director of the USAID, the public office that has been instrumental in providing funding to the region was on hand to offer his comments as well. Two Congressmen were in attendance including The Honorable Madeleine Z. Bordallo from Guam and The Honorable Eni F.H. Faleomavaega from American-Samoa.

Located where the Indian and Pacific oceans meet in SE Asia, the Coral Triangle harbors the world’s highest diversity of marine life on earth and support a global seafood industry worth billions. Featuring magnificent coral vistas and pristine beaches, the region, additionally, supports a 12 billion dollar tourism industry. The six countries in the Coral Triangle including the Philippines, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea is home to more than 120 million people and their livelihoods, as well as the food security of the world, are in jeopardy as the resources are at great risk.

Learn more about WWF's work in the Coral Triangle