Posted by: Hendra Siry | 20 April, 2009

Indonesia to Push for Common Fund To Help Preserve Region’s Coral Reefs

Six nations, including Indonesia, plan to finance a permanent coral reef management regime in the region from a common independent fund, an Indonesian representative of the group said on Sunday. The Coral Triangle Initiative, or CTI, countries ; Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Solomon Islands, have currently earmarked a total of Rp 2.66 trillion ($250 million) for coral reef preservation but these funds remain under the control of each individual nation.

Eko Rudianto, the executive secretary of the Regional CTI Interim Committee, said it was hoped that the regional meeting in Manado, North Sulawesi Province, next month would lead to an independent and sustainable financing mechanism. “For Indonesia, we encourage the idea that we want the financing to be an independent mechanism that would not be dependent solely on grants,” said Eko, who is also an official with the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

“For instance, we could establish an endowment fund to which all the [CTI group] countries would contribute. It’s a very long process to get there but we are all agreed on pushing for a more sustainable financing mechanism instead of counting on grants.” The so-called Coral Triangle region is home to 53 percent of  the world’s coral reefs and boasts an abundant variety of sea life, with more than 600 coral species and 3,000 fish species.

“The financing mechanism between the six countries would take a bit more time [to decide] because there is still much more to discuss, since every country has different points of view on the mechanism,” Eko said. Maritime Affairs Minister Freddy Numberi had previously expressed an eagerness to include oceans and coastal areas under the United Nations Climate Change Conference’s international funding mechanism.

The CTI is an Indonesian initiative introduced by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the APEC leaders meeting in September 2007. The leaders of the six CTI countries will attend the CTI Summit in Manado on May 15 to focus on coral reefs, fisheries and food security.

In principle, the countries also share a common view to develop sustainable fishing in the region. Eko said the official agenda for the summit covered five major areas for discussion: setting up regional priorities for conservation; fisheries management based on conservation, including alternative livelihoods; marine protected areas; adaptation efforts to combat climate change in coastal areas; and maintaining populations of endangered marine species.

Rili Djohani, Indonesian director of the Nature Conservancy environmental conservation group, said that coral reefs played a significant role in tackling climate change but also held a number of other important social roles. “They are the source of food security for almost 15 million people, a resilient system for climate change, especially on sea temperature rise, and they also hold an important role for tourism,” Rili said.

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