MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is assisting the six member-countries of the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) strengthen coastal and marine ecosystems management through a $2.3-million technical assistance.

"The project will promote regional cooperation on information exchange and decision making based on scientific and technical knowledge to ensure that the Coral Triangle will be managed in a coordinated and sustainable manner," said Marilou Drilon, natural resources economist of ADB's Southeast Asia Department.

Often referred to as "the Amazon of the Seas," the Coral Triangle contains vast marine resources critical for the economic and food security of an estimated 120 million people. These resources are at immediate risk from a range of factors, including the impacts of climate change, over fishing, and unsustainable fishing methods.

ADB is actively assisting the CTI, which groups Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste to oversee the 5.7-million-square-kilometer expanse of ocean.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) will provide a $1.2 million grant, to be administered by ADB, for the project. GEF aids projects on global environmental issues involving climate change, biodiversity, international waters, and ozone depletion.

ADB's Regional Cooperation and Integration Fund under the Regional Cooperation and Integration Financing Partnership Facility will provide an additional $500,000 grant. The six member-countries will contribute $600,000 to complete project funding.

The project will help establish regional learning mechanisms and disseminate research-based information to define options and decisions for sustainable resource management. It will explore innovative and sustainable financing to implement the CTI Regional Plan of Action on improved strategic planning, communications, and training. It will also encourage stakeholders' participation and build on existing policies, plans, inter-country agreements, institutional arrangements, and accomplishments to speed up progress in the CTI region.

ADB's Southeast Asia Department will take the lead in the project and work closely with ADB's CTI Task Force. The lead environment agencies in each CTI country will assist in project implementation.