Save the Coral Triangle

A coral reef in Indonesia, part of the triangle in need of protection.© The Nature Conservancy

The Global Environment Facility (GEF), an independent grantmaking institution focused on helping developing countries undertake sustainability projects, last week announced that it is committing some $63 million toward preserving biodiversity in Asia’s so-called Coral Triangle. The area straddles the waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands and East Timor. Known as the "Amazon of the seas," the Coral Triangle is believed to have the most marine biodiversity of any part of the world’s oceans, and is threatened by both overfishing and global warming. GEF believes the funds it is offering can be leveraged by the Asian Development Bank and other entities to save some $5 billion in annual revenue derived from the region’s fishing and tourism industries, both of which depend on healthy marine ecosystems.

The majority of the $63 million committed by GEF will go toward helping the region’s fishing industry become more sustainable. "The sustainable management of these resources is crucial to ensure that an adequate supply of food exists to sustain millions of people living along the coastlines," Monique Barbut, GEF’s chief executive, told reporters.

The Washington, DC-based GEF, which has a membership of some 180 different international institutions, private organizations and national governments, is one of the world’s top funders of projects to help the environment. Prior to the Coral Triangle announcement, GEF made headlines for its role in convincing the government of China to mandate a switch-over from incandescent to compact fluorescent light bulbs, as well as for helping the Russian Federation improve energy efficiency in both public buildings and urban housing.

Sources: Global Environment Facility; MSNBC