PH hosts Coral Triangle meet

Senior officials from the six-member countries of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) will gather in the Philippines for a four-day meeting to discuss solutions and measures to protect this biodiversity-rich region.

The 13th CTI-CFF Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) will be held in Makati City starting today (Nov. 27) up to Thursday (Nov. 30). 

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, who sits as chairman of the Council of Ministers, said the Philippines looks forward to hosting the regional conference.

“Every gathering of countries that prioritizes the protection of marine and coastal resources is a welcome opportunity to do our share to improve the lives of people who depend on these resources,” Cimatu said.

Aside from the Philippines, other CTI-CFF members are Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste. These Coral Triangle nations are collectively called CT6.

Organized in 2009, the CTI-CFF is a multilateral collaboration of the CT6 to protect the Coral Triangle Region and to address critical issues such as food security, livelihoods, climate change and marine biodiversity through a people-centered approach to conservation.

Cimatu described the meeting as very timely as the Coral Triangle faces threats of unsustainable fishing, pollution, rapid increase of human populations and loss of critical habitats from coastal land developments and conversions.

He noted that the rise in sea temperatures due to climate change has also negatively affected the region’s coral reef systems.

“The coral reef ecosystems of the Coral Triangle are among the most threatened in the world,” Cimatu pointed out. “We are racing against time to save them to ensure food security for our people, especially in the face of climate change.”

Senior officials are set to review during the 4-day meeting the CTI-CFF Regional Plan of Action (RPOA) to hasten the implementation of the initiative’s goals and objectives, according to DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Agreements Jonas Leones, who is the designated Chair of the SOM. 

The body will also tackle updates on the respective National Plan of Action (NPOA) of each member country, Leones added.

The RPOA listed the 5 thematic goals, namely: strengthening of management of seascapes; application of ecosystems approach to fisheries management; enhancing management of marine protected areas; building resilience to climate change; and,  protecting threatened marine species.

Leones said the CT6 aims to achieve its goals by 2020.

“The CTI-CFF country report on the NPOA achievements, challenges and lessons learned will pave the way for the member countries to set our action plans toward this direction while addressing emerging challenges” he said. 

The group will also take up the application of Wildlife Conservation Society as a new member of CTI Partners and recommend its approval to the CTI Council of Ministers.

Also to be tackled at the meeting are the progress of cooperation agreements with CTI partners, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Australian Aid (AusAid), Conservation International (CI), Coral Triangle Centre (CTC), Global Environment Facility (GEF), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

CTI-CFF collaborators Gesellschaft für InternationaleZusammenarbeit (GIZ), Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), and Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) will also present progress updates and initiatives.

The Coral Triangle, considered as the “world’s epicenter of marine biodiversity,” covers 647 million hectares of land and sea within the territories of the six-member countries. The name refers to the marine waters that are roughly triangular in shape between the Pacific and Indian oceans.

The Philippines serves as the Chair of the CTI-CFF Council of Ministers from 2016 to 2018. ###

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