VIEWPOINT: South Pacific meets South East Asia
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a champion for the Coral Triangle region, was a guest of honour and the keynote speaker at the PIDF summit on ‘Green Growth in the Pacific: Building Resilient Sustainable Futures and Genuine Partnerships’.
The President shared his views on how Indonesia can strengthen existing relations and cooperation with the Pacific to address common development challenges and support the aspirations of the PIDF to achieve the Sustainable Pacific Society, a vision he said was similar in many ways to his 4-pronged approach to development: pro-growth, pro-poor, pro-job, and pro-environment.
Why was it emotional? Because when I first started in WWF’s Coral Triangle Programme back in 2009 in Fiji, I was the Pacific Policy Officer and it was part of my job to raise awareness in the Pacific about the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF). At that time, I was encouraging links between the broader Pacific and the Coral Triangle with the aim to widen the regional collaboration for conserving and sustainably managing coastal and marine resources.
Later on, with growing awareness on the importance of green and blue economies, it became a policy objective for WWF in the region to encourage and demonstrate blue economy approaches in the marine world that would benefit the environment, people and the economy. The imperative was there to increase the awareness of healthy marine ecosystems and their importance to people, their livelihoods, food security and well being.
So it was a poignant moment to hear President Yudhoyono pledge closer cooperation with the Pacific and committing 20 million USD for climate change; promote closer trade and connectivity between Indonesia and the South Pacific; and strongly advocate Green-Blue economies. Further he stressed that it is a priority for Indonesia to work more closely with the PIDF to conserve and enhance fisheries and marine resources, collaborate to build linkages between marine protected areas, and that Indonesia supports the idea of expanding the participation of other Pacific countries in the Coral Triangle Initiative.
From a WWF perspective, the President’s words open the door for increased two way South-South collaboration and shared learning on oceans and coastal marine resource management, on building partnerships between governments, communities and the private sector and a heightened awareness of the need to move towards greener and bluer economies.
To this end, WWF’s Pacific programme has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the PIDF Secretariat to work together on activities to support building Green-Blue economies, including the hosting of a Regional Business-to-Business forum based on the model of the Coral Triangle Regional Business Forum, as a mechanism for increasing the engagement of the private sector and industry in the dialogue and action for sustainable development and wise management of our natural resources.
The cross boundary, 2-way sharing of ideas and experiences between the Coral Triangle and the greater Pacific region can help promote sustainable economies based on sound management of natural resources and healthy resilient ecosystems. For me, a critical area where the countries of the Coral Triangle can look to the Pacific is in tuna governance and management.
The 8 Pacific countries that are members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) and the Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association have each successfully achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification of tuna fisheries in the past few years. The regional tuna collaboration that is the PNA could be a model for the 6 countries of the Coral Triangle to consider.
So with the potential for Brunei to join the CTI-CFF in the coming months, I wonder when we might see the first of the Pacific Island countries that are not part of the formally designated Coral Triangle region apply to join the regional collaboration for Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security?
And what will be the role of the PIDF in helping to foster that cross-regional collaboration, particularly as 3 Coral Triangle countries—Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands—are members of the PIDF?
The President's full speech can be read here.
Pacific Islands Development Forum website is at http://pacificidf.org