“The Coral Triangle Initiative is an incredible step forward for conservation. The protection of these coral reefs and the life they support will help our planet cope with a changing climate and ensure the livelihoods for well over 100 million people.”
Rebecca Patton, Chief Conservation Strategies Officer with The Nature Conservancy
The Coral Triangle Initiative started with a personal call for action on an urgent threat. The precious marine resources of the Coral Triangle region are being destroyed by climate change, overfishing, illegal fishing, unsustainable coastal development and pollution.
This grim challenge led Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to reach out to the key people and groups that could make a difference.
Backed by Nature Conservancy experts, President Yudhoyono issued a formal letter in 2006 to the COP-8 Convention on Biodiversity, highlighting the critical importance of the Coral Triangle.
The letter also signaled President Yudhoyono's intention to accelerate its protection in collaboration with the other Coral Triangle governments. In August 2007, he wrote to seven other regional and world leaders proposing the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security, aiming to bring together the six Coral Triangle governments in a multilateral partnership to conserve the extraordinary marine life in the region.
An immediate and significant result of this effort was that, all 21 heads of government at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in September 2007 declared their support for this new initiative.
Coral Triangle: Amazon of the Seas
Sometimes referred to as the “Amazon of the Seas,” it is the epicenter of marine life abundance and diversity on the planet. While the area covers only 2 percent of the world’s oceans, it contains:
- More than 75 percent of all known coral species;
- More than 30 percent of the world’s coral reefs;
- Nearly 40 percent of coral reef fish species; and
- The greatest extent of mangrove forests anywhere in the world.
The Nature Conservancy, our partners and the Coral Triangle countries recognize that the threats to marine biodiversity and coral reef systems in this globally important region can not be conquered by one nation alone.
A Plan of Action
The six governments of the Coral Triangle responded to President Yudhoyono’s letter by agreeing to develop a plan of action for implementing this new initiative, with a decision to hold an initial meeting last December to develop a framework for the plan.
The idea conceptualized and catalyzed by the Conservancy and our partners has moved into a new stage of actions and commitments.
A few of the nine guiding principals agreed upon by all of the Coral Triangle governments are that the initiative should:
- Support people-centered biodiversity conservation, sustainable development, poverty reduction and equitable benefit sharing.
- Be based on solid science.
- Be centered around quantitative goals and timetables adopted by governments at the highest political levels.
- Recognize the transboundary nature of some important marine natural resources and communities.
- Be inclusive and engage multiple stakeholders.
- Recognize the uniqueness, fragility and vulnerability of island ecosystems.
The roadmap has been created, a plan of action is being developed, and, to facilitate this process, a working group has been established with participants from all six Coral Triangle governments. The group recognizes that, by working together, it can achieve outcomes beyond the means of any one country.
By building sustainable funding into the plan through endowments and domestic sources of funding, such as tourism fees and airport taxes, the initiative is ensuring long-term success of conservation in the Coral Triangle.
Over the next few years, the Conservancy and our partners will continue to engage with these governments to implement strategies on marine protected areas, sustainable fisheries management, protection of threatened species, and climate change adaptation.