Stakeholders explore Coral Triangle's business opportunities

January 19, 2010 10:50 pm 

By Catherine J Teves

MANILA, Jan. 19 — Stakeholders concerned are looking into environment-friendly business opportunities in the Coral Triangle (CT), the 5.4-million square kilometer expanse of biodiversity-rich Indo-Pacific ocean area which Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and leaders of five other countries there are striving to protect.

The stakeholders are exploring such opportunities to maximize benefits from the area's natural resources without destroying these as Mrs. Arroyo pointed out profitability with sustainability is possible.

"I call on you to join the new breed of businesses that believe profit and environmental protection can co-exist," she urged delegates to the first CT Business Summit that opened Tuesday in Makati City.

Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) as well as the Philippines' Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are spearheading this summit to encourage players in the tuna and tourism industries as well as in other marine resource-based sectors to tap green investments for CT.

These three proponents also said the summit seeks to define sectoral goals and roles needed in ensuring CT's protection and sustainability during the next five to 10 years.

"We need to integrate efforts on making a rational impact on conservation there," DENR Undersecretary Manuel Gerochi said at the summit's press conference.

The summit likewise aims to catalyze multi-sectoral collaboration within CT to promote public-private partnerships, sustainable investments and green growth there.

"We want funding agencies, conservationists and other stakeholders concerned to draw support from each other and share best practices to see how far we can go," DA Sec. Arthur Yap said at the event.

WWF's CT Programme head Dr. Lida Pet-Soede believes the summit is timely as she pointed to continuing inflow of international funding for the area's protection and sustainable development.

"Over US$ 400 million has been committed so far," she said at the press conference.

Experts earlier cited CT as having the richest marine biodiversity on earth.

They said CT has over 3,000 fish species, 75 percent of coral species known to science, 45 percent of global seagrass species and 75 percent of the world's mangrove species.

This makes CT a key source of food, they noted.

WWF reported some 130 million people depend on CT's resources for their survival.

CT nations Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Timor Leste and the Philippines earlier agreed to collaborate on protecting the area.

These nations did so as experts warned CT continues reeling from population growth, destructive fishing, pollution, coastal habitat conversion, climate change and other threats to its existence.

To help better ensure CT's protection and sustainable development, nations there decided on adapting a wholistic, integrated approach for the area.

"CT is an eco-systems approach to conservation and development," Gerochi said.

He said the CT nations already developed last year respective national plans of action for protecting the area from degradation.

"President Arroyo's directive is to translate the Philippine national plan of action into local action plans," he noted.

This requires more implementation of integrated coastal resource management nationwide.

This strategy for environmental protection and sustainable development takes into consideration interdependence of habitats in the uplands down to the lowlands. (PNA) LOR/CJT/utb

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