Ministers from the Solomon Islands and Indonesia - on behalf of the Coral Triangle countries - today called on world leaders to recognize and act upon the threat climate change poses to marine environments, particularly the adverse impacts on coral reefs, fisheries and food security. GEF has committed up to $63 million to support a program of action under the Coral Triangle Initiative.
“Oceans play a critical role in our lives, and impacts brought about by climate variability and change have become one of the greatest threats to the survival of the Coral Triangle” said Mr. Gordon Darcy Lilo, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Meteorology of the Solomon Islands.
Speaking at Oceans Day in Copenhagen, Minister Lilo and Indonesian Minister for Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Dr. Fadel Muhammad, presented a joint communiqué on oceans and climate change, signed less than a month ago in Gizo, Solomon Islands by themselves as well as their counterparts from Malaysia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste.
The Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) on coral reefs, fisheries and food security provides a framework for the six countries to ensure the sustainable management of an area often referred to as "the Amazon of the Seas." The CTI sub region is the epicenter of marine life abundance and diversity on the planet, holding more than 75% of the known corals and over 3,000 species of fish.
Highlighting the importance of these resources to the livelihoods of more than 240 million people, the joint communiqué notes their high concern over sea level rise and the increase in ocean temperatures and acidity. It calls for the inclusion of a marine component within the negotiation text of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Minister Fadel Muhammad added, "I'd like to call upon all parties here at COP15 in Copenhagen to support the adaptation and mitigation measures put forward by the six Coral Triangle Initiative countries."
The Coral Triangle Initiative is being implemented with support from a number of international partner organizations. More than $300 million has been raised to complement government resources, in cooperation with the Asian Development Bank, the Australian Government, Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the Nature Conservancy, the US government and the World Wide Fund for Nature.
"Even in Copenhagen, we must not forget about “Dead Zones” that come from agriculture and sewage pollution: they threaten food and economic security for billions of people, too often the most vulnerable and poor," said Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF. "Therefore we cannot just focus on funds for blue carbon but on integrated approaches with partners who can deliver different types of assistance. The good news is that countries are ready to help and so is the GEF."
This was the first time an Oceans Day had been held in conjunction with UN climate talks. It was organized by the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, the Government of Indonesia, the European Environment Agency and 46 other entities from around the world, including UN agencies, national governments, science groups and non-government organization. The event highlighted the central role of oceans in regulating climate and temperature and the disproportionate impacts that ocean warming, sea level rise, extreme weather events, and ocean acidification will have on the viability of marine ecosystems, fisheries and the sustainability of human livelihoods.