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15 May 2009
Honourable Ministers, Senior officials, Partners, Distinguished guests,
Thank you for inviting Australia to be part of this historic day and it was a real honour to witness your Leaders' Summit for the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security.
It is a great pleasure for me to represent Australia here today and I am truly delighted to be part of such an initiative that sets a precedent in regional cooperation between your six countries.
On behalf of the Australian Government, I applaud each of your countries on your vision, commitment and courage in embarking on this program of change that will benefit your people, the region and the world. I recognise the significant and substantial role and commitment that the NGO partners have brought to the CTI.
This initiative is unique, marking the first regional partnership of this kind. As a neighbouring country, Australia welcomes the announcement of this new integrated approach to regional and national action - one that recognises the critical role that healthy oceans play in our lives.
It was more than a year ago that Australia accepted the gracious invitation from President Yudhoyono to become a founding partner in the Coral Triangle Initiative.
Today, I stand beside you as a willing and committed partner in your vision of a healthy and enduring Coral Triangle.
Australia, with our waters adjoining the Coral Triangle region, is united with you in facing these challenges.
As close neighbours, we have long standing and trusted relationships with your governments, including strong economic and development cooperation. A partner role gives us a great opportunity to build upon our joint successes and to extend these to broader regional cooperation.
Last November, Australia hosted a workshop in Townsville in support of the CTI, where participants from your countries identified issues of priority.
Today, we offer our support in areas where we believe that Australia can contribute most to address the needs identified by the CTI countries - by investing in knowledge, communities and people.
Today I am delighted to launch a multi-year commitment by Australia in support of the CTI that will evolve and respond as the initiative grows.
I am pleased to announce an immediate contribution of $2 million in direct support for the CTI. This support will target the needs and challenges that you have identified as priorities within your Regional and National Plans of Action. It will focus on four main areas: capacity building, marine conservation training, addressing destructive fishing practices, and protecting vulnerable species.
This investment is Australia's 'downpayment' in support of the CTI and recognises that we are with you for the long haul.
Australia is offering a program of capacity building, focusing on administrative and technical advisory assistance. As in any major partnership, an effective administrative support mechanism, such as a regional secretariat, is essential as a solid foundation for implementing the CTI and maintaining momentum for action.
Australia will support in-country actions for early national priorities in Coral Triangle countries immediately.
In response to needs identified in the Coral Triangle regional plan of action, Australia will support a government training program in marine conservation planning and the use of science in policy starting with Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. We will also provide an inventory of Australian marine science education and training courses to enable a rapid response to capacity needs.
To empower people with the information needed to stop destructive fishing practices, Australia will fund a scoping study to work with partners to understand the social drivers and ecological and economic consequences of these practices and identify possible solutions.
Regarding vulnerable species, we will fund the development of a regional marine mammal conservation plan to share knowledge across the CTI on practical solutions.
I am confident the Coral Triangle Initiative will bring about a new way of doing business, new partnerships and a healthier and more valuable and productive coastal and marine environment for your countries and your communities.
Today, a new natural wonder is presented to the world, the Amazon of the seas - the Coral Triangle.
On behalf of the Australian Government, I wish you all the best in your endeavours. I encourage you to aim high confident in the knowledge that you have Australia's long term support.