Indonesia leads global action to save coral reefs

Hans Nicholas Jong The Jakarta Post 4 Jun 16;

Indonesia will lead a global movement to protect endangered coral reefs following the approval of an international-level resolution on the preservation of the complex marine ecosystems.

The resolution, which is the first global environmental resolution initiated by Indonesia, was approved last week by 170 countries during the Second Session of the UN Environment Assembly ( UNEA-2 ) in Nairobi, Kenya.

The UNEA is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment.

“The resolution is meant to push governments and international organizations as well as stakeholders to take practical steps and actions,” Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said during the UNEA-2.

Indonesia is home to nearly 14 percent of the world’s coral reefs, with the archipelago supporting a wealth of coral diversity including 92 genus and 569 species.

Coral is highly vulnerable to environmental changes, and suffers from increasing human populations.

Scientists have raised the alarm over the accelerated rate of climate change putting more pressure on the reefs, which have served as food and medicinal sources for centuries.

The rise of baseline temperatures has resulted in widespread coral bleaching, where coral loses its colorful symbiotic algae and exposes its white skeleton, leaving it vulnerable to disease and death.

According to a survey conducted by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences ( LIPI ), 73.91 percent of coral reefs in eastern Indonesia are damaged, along with 66.13 percent in western Indonesia.

Therefore, Indonesia initiated the resolution to encourage countries to join hands to protect coral reefs.

The country’s leadership in the preservation of coral reefs started at a regional level, when Indonesia initiated a multilateral partnership with the governments of Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste.

The partnership, launched in 2009, is called the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security ( CTI-CFF ).

The initiative is not only a response to the 130 million people who rely on the biological zones of the Coral Triangle, but also for the world at large.

“We already have a delivery mechanism through the CTI. We also have programs in regional administrations called marine protected areas [MPA]. That’s why we are confident and made the resolution,” said Suseno Sukoyono, an expert staff member from the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry.

Through the sustainable MPA program, Indonesia aims to protect biodiversity and have a positive impact on people’s livelihoods in coastal areas.

So far, the government has established 17.3 million hectares of protected maritime areas, and aims to have 20 million ha of MPA by 2020.

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