Selected postings from east-timor (reg.easttimor)

Subject: Six Nations to Take First Steps on Coral Initiative

The Jakarta Globe

Friday, May 15, 2009

Six Nations to Take First Steps on Coral Initiative

by Fidelis E. Satriastanti & Arti Ekawati

Six member countries of the Coral Triangle Initiative of South Pacific nations on Thursday agreed to push ahead to create a secretariat and work out funding later in a bid to protect the region’s fast-diminishing coral reefs, said Freddy Numberi, Indonesia’s minister of maritime affairs and fisheries.

Officials of the six nations ­ Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and the Solomon Islands ­ were expected to sign what was termed a CTI Leader’s Declaration on May 15.

The secretariat is in the very early stages. Only the United States has confirmed funding, allocating $40 million over five years. The body is seeking $70 million from the Global Environmental Fund, which addresses the funding of global environmental issues, particularly climate change adaptation and mitigation.

An estimated $300 million is believed to be available from various sources for the preservation of the six countries’ coral reefs.

Although no decision has been made on the location of the secretariat, Papua New Guinea has agreed that Indonesia would be a likely location although the Philippines is reportedly also vying for the site, which can be expected to generate one of the world’s top marine research centers.

We’ve agreed to just use the word secretariat and not permanent secretariat,” said Freddy, who acted as chairman for the preparation meeting Thursday. “It will be discussed at the next meeting in June. But we’re not going to decide whether it’s a mobile or permanent secretariat.”

Financial mechanisms, he said, had not been discussed and would be taken up in June. “However, we’ve agreed that the mechanics will be adjusted according to each country’s action plan.”

Eko Rudianto, the director of ocean landscape at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said determining a permanent location for the organization would be complicated and involved more than site availability and government willingness.

Many things should be considered, since it’s related to multilateral cooperation,” Eko said in an interview in Manado in North Sulawesi where the World Ocean Conference was held. “It won’t be as easy as building a branch office.”

Funding is really about the … total area of marine conservation in one country, not the location of the secretariat,” Eko said. Nor, he said, would the secretariat’s location give the host country more clout as a decision-maker. “It’s only the place to manage the organization,” he said.

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