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Coral Triangle

The Coral Triangle Center: A Living Legacy

“Linked as networks these marine protected areas bring benefits beyond their boundaries. Only by working together can we pass the heritage of the Coral Triangle to our own and future generations.” 

Rili Djohani, Founding Director of the Coral Triangle Center

The coral reefs spanning Southeast Asia and the Pacific are the richest and most productive on Earth, contributing to the health and well-being of people around the world. They are the bedrock of coastal fisheries, underpinning local economies and providing livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people, food to a billion people in Asia alone, 65 percent of the protein in Southeast Asian diets and nearly all of the protein in Pacific Island diets.

But the region’s reefs, coasts and fisheries are surrounded by some of the world’s fastest-growing populations and economies, and they face intense pressure. That’s why The Nature Conservancy has invested in people and places throughout the Coral Triangle for the past two decades.

Making Waves

In 2000, the Conservancy’s Indonesia Program launched the Coral Triangle Center (CTC). Located in Bali, the Center serves as a hub for the development and exchange of knowledge related to marine conservation. Here, scientists representing various disciplines work hand in hand with policy and finance experts, natural resource managers and other conservation practitioners to collectively adapt tools and approaches for the effective management of coral reefs, fisheries and other coastal resources throughout the Coral Triangle.

The Center serves representatives of government, the private sector, NGOs and traditional and communal resource owners and managers. In its first decade of operation, more than 2,500 people participated in training programs related to marine protected areas, learning the skills needed to develop sustainable economic activities and create policies and financing structures that support long term management and use. The Center has also hosted peer study tours to enhance knowledge exchange between national park managers in Indonesia and their colleagues in places like Ecuador, Mozambique and Cambodia.

The Road to Independence

Rili Djohani, who worked with the Conservancy for 15 years, launched and nurtured the Center as she built the Conservancy’s Asia-Pacific marine program. Her vision to establish a local center of excellence to advance marine conservation throughout the Coral Triangle became a reality in 2011 when, with a strong foundation and track record in place, the Center became an independent organization. As the Center’s Founding Director, Rili will oversee its evolution, continuing to shape and build momentum for marine conservation throughout the region. She is supported by a board comprised of prominent Indonesian leaders, as well as a Regional Advisory Board to assist with outreach in other parts of the Coral Triangle, including Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste.

“I'm very excited to transition into this role and take on new challenges,” Rili said. “Being part of the Conservancy undoubtedly offered many advantages, but the Center’s status as an independent, local organization will enhance opportunities for growth and influence at this point in its development.”

A Legacy That Lives and Grows

The Center continues to conduct research and to develop and disseminate information that improves the design and management of marine protected areas, using its nearby Nusa Penida Marine Protected Area training site to deliver customized, hands-on instruction. It is also embarking on bold, new initiatives to expand its influence and enhance its ability to support partners, including:

  • Collaborating with Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries to establish a School for Marine Protected Area Management in Indonesia. The school will help to build the knowledge and skills required to support the country’s goal of protecting 10 percent of its oceans and coasts.
  • Establishing and promoting peer learning networks — a proven means for sharing and strengthening tools and practices in other parts of the world — to connect and empower marine conservationists throughout the region.

The demand for training and learning services continues to grow as governments and communities throughout the Coral Triangle become more concerned about the long-term sustainability of their oceans and reefs. Amid this increasing demand, the Center is strengthening its reputation as a regional hub for marine conservation and is contributing to a growing body of knowledge that will help to improve ocean management globally. The Coral Triangle Center promises to be one of the Conservancy’s most valuable and enduring partners.

Ms. Rili Djohani serves as Executive Director of the Coral Triangle Center. She has worked for over 20 years in conservation nonprofits to improve the management of marine protected areas and reduce the use of unsustainable fishing practices. From 1989 to 1993, she developed the marine conservation portfolio for WWF Indonesia and was involved in numerous USAID- and Worldbank-funded marine programs for Indonesia. She then worked for The Nature Conservancy from 1995 to 2011. In that capacity, she assisted the Government of Indonesia with the planning of marine protected areas throughout Indonesia and implemented multiple-year marine conservation programs in Komodo, Wakatobi, Derawan, Raja Ampat and Nusa Penida. Rili established the Conservancy’s Coral Triangle Center program in Bali in 2000 and served as the Conservancy’s Country Director for Indonesia from 2004 to 2008. She was part of the team that helped start up and launch the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI), a multi-lateral partnership between Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands to safeguard the most diverse reefs on earth. Rili was appointed the Conservancy’s Coral Triangle Program Director in 2009 and focused on government and partner relationships in the Asia Pacific region. She worked closely with the Conservancy to launch the CTC as an independent regionally-based nonprofit in 2011. Rili Djohani holds an M.S. in tropical marine ecology from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and an M.S. in tropical coastal zone management from the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne. She is currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program in environmental policy and law with the University of Leiden.

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