Corals and Tigers: Finding Common Ground on Conservation
Partners in the Global Tiger Initiative and Coral Triangle Initiative discuss shared commitments and challenges at World Bank
What are the keys to success and sustainability of multilateral country-driven conservation initiatives where politics and the interests of development and biodiversity often collide? This was the subject for discussion at an informal lunch held at the World Bank in Washington earlier this week, where partner organizations of the Coral Triangle Initiative and Global Tiger Initiative gathered to speak of their experiences in supporting implementation of complex, multinational conservation agreements.
The Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security (www.cti-secretariat.net) came together with the leadership of President Yudhoyono of Indonesia and 5 other nations in the South Pacific region (Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste) to agree on political actions that could safeguard the region’s marine and coastal biological resources for sustainable growth. Several intergovernmental meetings and negotiating sessions from 2007–09 resulted in a Ministerial Declaration and mutual agreement on plans to conserve and safeguard the most important area for marine biodiversity in the world. Panelists at the session included Kate Newman, Managing Director for the Coral Triangle Program at the World Wildlife Fund, Mahendra Shrestha, Director of the Save the Tiger Fund, and Nicole Glineur, Program Manager at the Global Environment Facility (see attached presentations).
Participants at the luncheon noted similarities and significant differences between the two initiatives. While GTI aims to align interests of 13 diverse countries of South, South East and East Asia to save a species whose habitat is not at all contiguous, the Coral Triangle Initiative had the advantage of working to conserve marine ecosystems that are interconnected and hold mutual “win-win” scenarios for the 6 signatory countries, in economic and biological terms.
Members of the Global Tiger Initiative team listened intently as the CTI partners emphasized the importance of having a high-level champion like Indonesia’s President Yudhoyono and focusing upon areas of common ground between countries. Some of the nearly 40 attendees also brought up the need for clear funding commitments to be secured early on both from the host countries and their development partners communicated by sponsor institutions with clear advantages spelled out to the participant countries. In the case of CTI, the GEF is the largest donor, contributing $63million (which generated $350M of co-financing), with the total donor grant commitments exceeding $100 million in multi-year grants.
Alexander Moen, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives of the National Geographic Society, highlighted the critical aspects of well-targeted outreach and publicity campaigns in order to mobilize public opinion that can effectively influence policies in the right direction.
Further progress towards the complex and sometimes politically sensitive goals of the GTI are likely to emerge during next month’s Global Tiger Workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal, on October 27-30, where experts and policy-makers from all Tiger Range Countries will be in attendance.
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