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The Coral Triangle in the Spotlight at the World Parks Congress

The Coral Triangle in the Spotlight at the World Parks Congress

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The Coral Triangle region figured prominently in discussions at the recent International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Parks Congress, held 12 to 19 November 2014 in Sydney, Australia.

Bajau Laut sea gypsy houses on stilts, Pulau Gaya, Malaysia. (Photo by: © Jürgen Freund / WWF-Canon)

Bajau Laut sea gypsy houses on stilts, Pulau Gaya, Malaysia. (Photo by:
© Jürgen Freund / WWF-Canon)

The much-anticipated global forum on protected areas, held only once every 10 years, aims to set agendas for the conservation of such areas in the next decade, as reflected in this year’s theme of “Parks, People, Planet: Inspiring Solutions.”

It was also the ideal stage to bring into the spotlight the unceasing work of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) and its partners over the last five years, since the establishment of the CTI in 2009.

“The World Parks Congress was an important event in that it clearly highlighted the critical role of healthy oceans in life on earth, and strongly advocated that oceans and coasts must be protected on a much greater scale,” said Jackie Thomas, Leader of the WWF Coral Triangle Programme.

The Coral Triangle, 6 million square kilometers of marine area stretching across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste, is home to 360 million people and some of the world’s most valuable species, as well as an economic powerhouse.

A side event held on 13 November, hosted by the CTI-CFF and development partners including the Government of Australia, focused on “Celebrating Achievements in the Coral Triangle.”

From a governance perspective, Thomas noted, “The most significant achievements of the CTI-CFF are the recent ratification of the agreement to form a permanent regional secretariat, and the appointment of the first Executive Director to head up the secretariat.”

Indeed, the commitment of the six Coral Triangle nations to continuing cooperation among their governments has been laudable. “I therefore urge the CTI-CFF partners and collaborators to continue to support CTI-CFF within the ambit of these developments,” said Prof. Ir. R. Sjarief Widjaja, Chairman of the CTI-CFF Interim Regional Secretariat, hosted by the Government of Indonesia, in his opening remarks, read at the Congress.

“Let me also express my personal felicitations to the Government of Australia and development partners as well the Government of Indonesia for supporting the CTI-CFF in general and the IRS in particular. Without you, the milestones we’ve accomplished would not have been possible.”

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) were big news in Sydney, what with the impending gazettement of Tun Mustapha Park, almost a million hectares of rich priority conservation area in Malaysia. It was underscored that the establishment of such protected areas was less about restrictions than about proper management for greater socioeconomic benefits.

“From a conservation perspective, I believe another significant achievement of the CTI-CFF has been the focus on improving management effectiveness of existing MPAs in the Coral Triangle, and building capacity across the six Coral Triangle countries for MPA design, establishment, and effective management, plus developing the resources and tools to support this effort,” Thomas said.

“Establishing a system of marine reserves in the Coral Triangle that are connected, resilient, and sustainably financed is one of the main goals of our work,” affirmed Mundita Lim, Leader of the CTI-CFF’s Technical Working Group on Marine Protected Areas, during the Congress.

The establishment of important regional frameworks such as the Coral Triangle MPA System and the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) has further contributed to such effective overall administration, Thomas added.

It will be another 10 years before the next WPC. Meanwhile, for the CTI-CFF, the establishment of an effective regional secretariat, developing a regional financing architecture for long-term sustainable financing, and the greater involvement of the private sector, are important priorities on the agenda.

And then, of course, there is the continuous evolution of the protected areas that have become building blocks of CTI’s conservation efforts.

“We want to scale up the MPAs or Marine Managed Areas under effective management so that they achieve multiple objectives, such as sustainable fisheries, protection of biodiversity, food security, and livelihoods, and aid in building resiliency against climate and other environmental changes,” Thomas said.

View original story from WWF.

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