PNG, the World Ocean Conference & the Coral Triangle Initiative


I’ve been extremely busy over the past week and haven’t been able to regularly update Tubuans & Dukduks as much as I would like to. For this, I do apologise – but I do warn you that this won’t be the first time this year where I simply will not have the time to update my blog. It will happen again! However, just because I haven’t updated doesn’t mean that I’m not thinking about it. I have lists of things that I want to share with you and I thought I might start off with the topic of climate change and our oceans.

Few of you reading this post will know that from May 11 – 15 of this year, Indonesia will be hosting the World Ocean Conference (WOC) 2009. The WOC is a forum for the world community to discuss current issues in the marine field which are related to climate change, in order to achieve an international agreement and draw up an adaptive strategy to use marine resources wisely for the benefit of humanity.

Indonesia has received about US$ 250 Million in grants to host the WOC 2009 and so far, over 120 countries have confirmed that they will be taking part in the maritime world symposium. So yes, it is a serious forum with a simple yet serious directive – how do we deal with climate change and its’ effects on the Earth’s oceans?

I think the most intriguing aspect about the WOC is its’ core business – climate change and the oceans. We’ve heard of climate change, we’ve heard of climate change and environmental refugees (e.g. the Carteret Islanders in PNG), we’ve heard about climate change and our rainforests – but this is the first time that the world will deal with climate change and our oceans.

The WOC 2009 website states:

International agreements and conventions on oceans are important as sound references for deriving national policies by countries. However, in many aspects it requires serious political will of world leaders to drive and implement such agreements.

Problems such as the impact of climate change on oceans and degradation of land and marine resources have seriously affected global development. Efforts to reverse this trend are urgently required.

There are strong indications that WOC 2009 will result in some sort of international agreement being agreed to that consequently will become the  guiding light of marine management globally.

Coincidentally, the Coral Triangle Intiative (CTI) Summit will also be held paralell to WOC 2009 on May 15. For those of you who don’t know, the CTI was proposed in August 2007 by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia. It is a region approximatley 5.7 million km² large and is home to the highest diversity of marine life on earth. This region stretches across six countries: Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste.

The Coral Triangle is recognized as an area of global significance, blessed with over 75% of known coral species, over 30% of the world’s coral reefs, over 3,000 species of fish, and the greatest extent of mangrove forests of any region in the world. These extraordinary marine biological resources directly sustain the lives of over 120 million people and benefit millions more worldwide.

The Coral Triangle - Home to the World's Richest Coral Seas

Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare has expressed his support for the CTI in his keynote address to the South Pacific Regional Environment Program’s (SPREP) regional meeting in October 2008 – so there is no doubt that PNG will be a keen player in the 6-member CTI.

I’d like to point out here that we could possibly be seeing history repeat itself. If you’ve read my article about PNG and the carbon-credit trade, you may have an inkling of what I’m talking about. In that post, I wrote about how PNG and Costa Rica approached the world with the idea of paying them to save their forests – for the greater good of mankind.

The marine diversity in the CTI benefits millions of people who don’t live within the region (e.g. the CTI is a major spawning and nursery ground for commercially important tuna species, which supports a multi-billion dollar industry) just as the rainforests of the world benefit the Western world by taking care of their industrial emissions. So, why can’t the same concept be applied to the CTI?

PNG and the Pacific must follow closely the conclusions and directives of the World Ocean Conference 2009 as the Pacific depends upon the ocean for life. What the leaders of the world decide, whether the result be biased toward their home countries or not, will still have a domino effect on the Pacific. It is times like these that associations such as the Coral Triangle Initiative should present their demands – after all, it is our rainforests, our coral and our seas, not theirs.

~ by Tavurvur on February 28, 2009.

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