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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Coral Triangle initiative

Crowne plaza hotel, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea,
11 March 2009

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GARRETT: Can I just begin by making a couple of preliminary comments to you. Firstly to say how much Ive appreciated the opportunity come to Port Moresby, and very much appreciated the opportunity to participate in this important meeting of the Coral Triangle Initiative, to thank the Papua New Guinea Government for hosting this event, and to say how pleased Ive been not only to see the progress thats been made in the Initiative itself but also the fact that we havethe Development Partners here as well, and its been a particularly constructive meeting today.

The next thing is to point out how important Australia thinks this Initiative is. Weshare the common heritage of the oceans of this region. The health of ourcoral reefs is important for the Coral Triangle countries in particular, and for Australia as well, and we recognise that long term, the sustainable livelihoods of nearly a quarter of a billion people are very much at stake in the success of this Initiative.

The next thing to say is that we support the nations of the Coral Triangle Initiative and the work that theyre undertaking. We now have regional plans which have been endorsed. I think that is a very substantial step that has been undertaken at this meeting, and Im very much looking forward to Australia continuing to engage with this process, as we have up to this point in time.

Were strongly supportive of the work thats been undertaken. We acknowledge that this is a bold and new partnership, and as such its a tremendous thing to see the progress thats been made up to this point in time. And we do expect to provide some additional levels of advice and technical assistance over the coming months in the lead-up to the meeting in Manado.

Thank you very much, and Im happy to take any questions if you have any.

JOURNALIST: Can you just in a nutshell wrap up why there is the Coral Triangle Initiative, why is this an important move?

GARRETT: Its important because the region itself contains the most significant assemblage of coral environments. Its an area which has significant coastal populations who rely on the health of the ocean environment, and because its recognised as an area thats under considerable threat.

Here we have an Initiative whichidentifies those countries who share this extraordinary environment actually agreeing to move forward with a series of measures which will ensure food security, ensure sustainable livelihoods for the diverse and substantial populations of these nations, and additionally recognise the profoundly important economic but also environmental values that the Coral Triangle itself has.

Its identified by scientists as being very, very high in significant environmental value, and its clear that an Initiative of this kind is something which really needs to move forward in a bold fashion, and I think thats what weve seen in the meetings that have taken place here and that Ive been able to observe.

JOURNALIST: And theres more meetings coming up. When do we expect the Initiative to actually be emboldened or struck in stone?

GARRETT: Were seeing additional meetings that will be undertaken as a consequence of today, up to when the Coral Triangle nations themselves meet in Manado in May [INAUDIBLE] I think that from this particular conference, what weve identified is the opportunity to host the workshop in Manado, which we will do. That will be the workshop that comes after the ADB-hosted workshop this afternoon. We will do that.

Weve already provided in-kind assistance up to this point in time to the tune of some one million dollars or more, and I made the point when we met here this morning that we have the opportunity, having developed significant management plans and expertise in terms of coral reef management, to provide additional expertise and advice to the CTI nations -to the CTI generally, and to nations themselves and thats what I expect well do.

OK, thanks very much, everybody.

Commonwealth of Australia