Regional workshop in Manado spurs transboundary conservation efforts in the Coral Triangle

Regional workshop in Manado spurs transboundary conservation efforts in the Coral Triangle

From 15-17 May 2023, government officials, NGO representatives and researchers from countries in the Coral Triangle (CT), South-East Asia, converged in Manado, Indonesia, for a regional workshop aimed at advancing transboundary conservation efforts and the protection of threatened and migratory species. The workshop was jointly organised by the Ocean Governance (OG) Project and CTI-CFF (Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security), which hosted the event at the Regional Secretariat’s premises. It provided the opportunity for stakeholders to share knowledge and discuss issues of common interest, with a focus on supporting the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework’s (GBF) ‘30×30’ goal – to protect and effectively manage 30 % of land and seas by 2030 – agreed by parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in December 2022.

The workshop was moderated by Charles Besancon from the OG project team. The welcoming speeches included an address by Dr. Mohd Kushairi bin Mohd Rajuddin, the Executive Director of CTI-CFF, and Mr. Ahmer Hakim, Co-Chair of the Working Group on MPAs and Chair of the Threatened Species Working Group. For the OG project, Puri Canals, Team Leader, and Veda Santiaji, South-East Asia expert, and WWF Coral Triangle Program also welcomed the participants. Puri Canals shared details and progress of the project and its cooperation with CTI-CFF, while Charles Besancon described the development of the GBF (and 30×30 target). Joe Appiott, Coordinator for Marine, Coastal, and Island Biodiversity for the CBD Secretariat, gave a remote presentation with further insights into the GBF’s Target 3 . Each country gave presentations on their progress in achieving Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 (from the predecessor to the new GBF) and their ambitions for the new Target 3. The presentations and case studies, delivered by representatives of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Papua New Guinea, highlighted recent achievements in protected area coverage, especially compared to the results presented at the preceding Regional Workshop in Puerto Princesa, Philippines, which took place in November 2022, shortly before the new targets were agreed.

The second day of the workshop focused on ecological considerations for migratory corridors and transboundary MPAs, international cooperation for successful marine corridors, and the perspective of indigenous peoples and local communities. The agenda concluded with a division into groups to discuss capacity gaps, opportunities, flagship species, and challenges for transboundary and migratory species in specific regions.

Participants greatly appreciated the informal approach of the workshop, which left plenty of room for exchanges and questions. Vivid discussions about the many different types of protected areas highlighted that achieving the ambitious 30×30 target requires more knowledge and regulatory recognition for Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs) and Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs). Participant Pablo de los Reyes, Senior Ecosystems Management Specialist from the Department of Environment of the Philippines, expressed his appreciation for the workshop:

“The workshop is very timely for us in consideration that I was able to share our experiences on how to support and achieve the 30×30 target through other tools such as OECMs. Also, I gained knowledge  from other CT countries on how they support the conservation of biodiversity. I am looking forward to have a bilateral, trinational, or multilateral agreement in the near future for the protection of marine migratory species within the CT Region.” 

The final day of the workshop offered participants the opportunity to visit Lembeh Strait, a significant area for migratory species that is currently undergoing the process of being designated a marine protected area (MPA). The field trip gave the workshop participants the chance to pursue their discussions in a practical context and to share their ideas and insights regarding the conservation of Lembeh Strait with the local government.

The regional workshop showcased the commitment of CT countries to advancing transboundary conservation efforts and protecting threatened and migratory species. It fostered collaboration and connections among government officials, NGOs and researchers from the CT. Participants are hoping to bring the results and newly gained knowledge to the relevant CTI Working Groups in the future.