Cimatu calls for collective action towards ‘sustainably managed’ Coral Triangle

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has called for a collective regional action to conserve the Coral Triangle and transform it into a sustainable mega-resource.

“We need strong resolve and decisive action to confront the challenges that our region — the Coral Triangle — faces,” Cimatu said in his keynote speech delivered by Undersecretary Rodolfo Garcia on Wednesday at the opening of the 13th Senior Officials’ Meeting of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) held in Makati City.

Cimatu noted that the environmental issues hounding the six-nation CTI-CFF are multidisciplinary, cross-sectoral and transboundary in nature, giving rise to problems that are “very difficult for individual countries, acting separately, to solve.”

“They are a pressing and urgent concern that we need to face together,” Cimatu said, referring to problems of marine pollution, coastal development and climate change, among others.

As current chair of CTI-CFF, Cimatu underscored the need for member countries to forge “a joint resources management agreement, a code of conduct that will transform our seas from being geopolitical hotspots to becoming crossroads of sustainably productive amity.”

Aside from the Philippines, the CTI-CFF is also composed of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste.

Cimatu said the regional meeting was a chance for CTI-CFF to measure where it is now in terms of implementing the 10-year Regional Plan of Action or RPOA for the period 2010 to 2020.

“Two years to 2020 is a timely period to assess what the remaining doables are,” Cimatu pointed out. “Yet, even as we take stock of our accomplishments, we have to look beyond 2020, to ensure the attainment of long-term goals, as well as our alignment with broader conventions and programs.”

The environment chief cited in particular the programs under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance or the Ramsar Convention, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Aichi Targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

At the same time, Cimatu took the opportunity to invite the other five CTI-CFF nations to join the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), which the 12th session of its parties was held in the Philippines last October.

He noted that of the six CTI-CFF member countries, only the Philippines is a party to the CMS.

“We hope that the other member-countries will consider also joining the CMS, given that their territories may also be hosts or ranges of migratory species, like the yellow fin and bluefin tuna,” he said.

The entire Coral Triangle region is a vital and major base for the food security of over 120 million people. It is also a habitat of many food fish species, including the prized tuna.

At the same time, the region contains about 53 percent of the world’s coral reefs, making it a center of marine biological diversity.

Cimatu said the nature-based tourism made possible by the region’s rich marine biodiversity is an important source of revenues for both the governments and coastal communities.

“Ecotourism is an important industry most appropriate for the conservation and strengthening of our marine protected areas,” he added. ###