EXPERT OPINION: Pak Darmawan, Interim Secretariat Coordinator, CTI CFF



Posted on 09 November 2012  | 
Pak Darmawan, Interim Secretariat Coordinator, CTI CFF
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What is the role of the CTI-CFF Interim Secretariat in the implementation of the CTI-CFF?

The CTI-CFF Interim Regional Secretariat is the main body that manages, coordinates, and supports official meetings and events being implemented under the CTI-CFF Regional Plan of Action road map. These include the annual high-level CTI-CFF Senior Officials Meeting and Ministerial Meetings and the periodic meetings and workshops organized by the CTI-CFF working groups.

The CTI-CFF Interim Regional Secretariat also provides technical and coordination support to the CTI National Coordination Committees in each of the six Coral Triangle countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste - on emerging opportunities and priorities related to reaching the goals and targets of the CTI-CFF Regional and National Plans of Action.

The CTI-CFF Interim Regional Secretariat acts as an information nerve center and a networking hub among those working to implement the goals of the CTI-CFF such as development partners, donors, non-government organizations, local governments, academia, and other stakeholders. It manages the CTI-CFF website and CTI-CFF representation in the media and various international forums such as the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Brazil and the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium in Australia. The Indonesia Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries currently hosts the CTI-CFF Interim Regional Secretariat.

What are the roles and responsibilities of the CTI-CFF Interim Regional Secretariat Coordinator?

The CTI-CFF Interim Regional Secretariat Coordinator is the knot that binds the threads of the CTI-CFF activities together. The Coordinator manages the day to day activities of the CTI-CFF Interim Regional Secretariat and ensures that the organization is represented in all relevant meetings, workshops, and consultations.

The Coordinator ensures that the CTI-CFF working groups ‘activities are being implemented on time and are aligned with the provisions of the CTI-CFF Regional Plan of Action. The Coordinator liaises with the focal points of the six CTI National Coordinating Committees, development partners and donor to ensure that various activities supporting the CTI-CFF at the regional and national level are aligned and do not overlap with each other. The Coordinator works with the CTI-CFF Communications Officer in managing the CTI-CFF website and facilitating information and media requests as needed.

The Coordinator also works closely with the high-level officials of the Indonesia Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF), which acts as the current home base of the CTI-CFF Interim Regional Secretariat.

What are some of the key challenges faced by the CTI-CFF Interim Regional Secretariat Coordinator in facilitating a six-country initiative such as the CTI-CFF?

Coordinating a complex, multi-stakeholder, and multi-country initiative such as the CTI-CFF is intrinsically challenging and rewarding. The scope and breadth of the CTI-CFF Regional and National Plans of Action requires the involvement of multiple stakeholders working at the community, national, and regional level. Reaching out, communicating, and bringing these stakeholders from different countries and backgrounds into the CTI-CFF community can be quite challenging. With the collaboration of the CTI-CFF development partners and the CTI national coordinating committees, we were able to organize regional exchanges and outreach activities and have made considerable progress in expanding the CTI-CFF universe since we began in 2009.

It is also important to understand that the CTI-CFF’s six member countries have varying degrees of economic, political, and socio-cultural contexts. As such, the CTI-CFF has to be sensitive to the differences as well as the similarities of each member to ensure that programs are implemented effectively and on time. The CTI-CFF Interim Regional Secretariat recognizes that what works in one country will not always work in the other so we have to be flexible and adaptable in our management approach.

As of October 2012, the CTI-CFF Interim Regional Secretariat is composed of two working full time (Coordinator and administration staff) and a number of officials from the MMAF. Various development partners have already pledged to support additional full time staff members to strengthen the capacity of the Interim Regional Secretariat. I am hopeful that we will be able to do more than what we have already accomplished going forward, especially during the transition to a permanent CTI-CFF Regional Secretariat in the coming year.

What lessons can be learned from working with multiple partners such as in the case of the CTI-CFF?

One of the challenges in working with multiple development partners is the tendency to duplicate activities. The CTI-CFF Interim Regional Secretariat plays a critical role in facilitating and ensuring that activities and resources are focused on the priorities of each of the six Coral Triangle countries and that work streams are not duplicated. We do this by identifying regional and national priorities and ensuring that partners coordinate and periodically inform each other about their activities.

Another challenge ensuring that development partners work under the CTI-CFF structures, such as the technical working groups, to facilitate cohesive and complimentary and coherent implementation of activities on the ground. Most importantly, we make sure that development partners know and understand why we need to support the CTI-CFF and why we need to collaborate with each other.

What is the CTI-CFF currently focusing on and how does it hope to achieve it?

The CTI-CFF is currently focused on establishing the permanent Regional Secretariat, ensuring financial sustainability of our activities, and establishing an in-country mechanism for the CTI-CFF. The CTI-CFF Interim Regional Secretariat is working with the CTI Council of Ministers chaired by Malaysia and various development partners to make sure that each of the governments of the CTI-CFF member countries are able to sign and ratify the agreement that will formally establish the permanent Secretariat.

We are working with various organizations to ensure continued funding support and investment in the CTI-CFF’s priority activities and the long-term sustainability of the work that we've started. We are also working to invigorate the thematic working groups at the regional and national level because I believe that for the CTI-CFF to achieve its goals and targets, we have to establish an effective machinery and mechanism to acquire inputs, process it to produce outputs that will roll up into outcomes that will enable us to achieve the five goals in the CTI-CFF Regional Plan of Action.

What are the future plans for the CTI-CFF and how can people continue to play a role in its success?

Now on fourth year of implementation, the CTI-CFF has made tremendous progress in achieving its goals. In the next year, we are looking forward to continue implementing the activities under the CTI-CFF Regional Plan of Action and at the same time bringing our experiences to a larger world stage. We will continue to work with our partners to engage communities and local government leaders to ensure that CTI-CFF’s goals are achieved and felt by its constituencies – the 320 million people living in the Coral Triangle. We will also be strengthening our outreach efforts to engage the youth and the media in our activities, such as the celebration of the Coral Triangle Day in June 2013, and expand public involvement in activities that promote marine resource sustainability in the region.
Pak Darmawan, Interim Secretariat Coordinator, CTI CFF
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