The CTI-CFF marked its 5th anniversary with a major milestone, and with assurance of continued support from Partners.
At the 5th CTI-CFF Ministerial Meeting (MM5) on May 15 – exactly five years since the Coral Triangle Leaders signed their “Declaration on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security” that launched the CTI-CFF – Datuk Dr. Ewon Ebin, Malaysia’s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation and outgoing Chair of the CTI-CFF Council of Ministers (CTI COM), announced that four countries had ratified the Agreement on the Establishment of the Regional Secretariat of CTI-CFF, enabling the last phase before entry into force and the establishment of the permanent Secretariat. The much anticipated announcement came after Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands confirmed that they had ratified the Agreement, becoming the third and fourth countries, respectively, to have done so.
Malaysia was the first country to ratify the Agreement in 2013, and Indonesia followed suit on March 11 of this year.
As laid down under Article 17, the Agreement “shall enter into force on the thirtieth day following the date of deposit with the Depository of instruments of acceptance or approval or ratification by at least four . . . members” of the CTI-CFF. The Agreement designates the Indonesian Government as Depository.
The CTI-CFF Partners lauded these developments. In a joint statement read by the Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, Mr. Greg Moriarty, Partners asserted the imminent establishment of the permanent Secretariat “positions all of us to more fully realize the value of working together.”
“One of the clear success factors of the CTI is that it was initiated with strong political commitment expressed by the leaders of each country. This has translated into substantial funding from the donor community and commitments on the part of all of us to work together to implement the goals of the Initiative. A great deal has been achieved as a result. We need to maintain this capacity of the CTI to attract funding support and translate that into actions and achievements. A strong Secretariat can help us do this,” the Partners’ statement said, adding, “The existing Partners remain committed to support you … We are fully committed to continuing our work with you to build the CTI into a strong and effective regional forum.”
Australia, as well the United States and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), has been assisting the establishment of the Regional Secretariat and other institutional and governance arrangements considered critical to the long-term sustainability of the CTI-CFF.
The Philippines and Papua New Guinea (PNG) also confirmed their signing of the Agreement this year, an essential step toward ratification.
Meanwhile, signalling the stepping up of preparations for the permanent Secretariat’s operations, the MM5 approved a resolution put forward by the 2nd Special Senior Officials Meeting (S-SOM2) authorizing the Interim Regional Secretariat (IRS) to establish the administrative arrangements and financial management systems needed to facilitate the transition to permanent Secretariat.
The IRS, which is based in the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of Indonesia and funded by the Indonesian Government with Partner support, has been providing the secretariat functions for the CTI-CFF, including coordinating the work of its various thematic and governance technical working groups.
The MM5 also approved an operations plan and budget that address the handover from interim to permanent Secretariat and the permanent Secretariat’s start-up needs.
Dr. Ewon was joined in the MM5 by Indonesia’s Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Mr. Sharif C. Sutardjo; PNG’s Environment, Conservation and Climate Change Department Secretary, Mr. Gunther Joku, who represented Minister John Pundari; the Philippines’ Undersecretary for Policy and Planning and Foreign-Assisted Projects of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Mr. Manuel Gerochi, representing Secretary Ramon Paje; Solomon Islands’ Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, Mr. Bradley Tovosia; and Timor-Leste’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr. Mariano Assanami Sabino.
Also in attendance was Brunei Darussalam’s Industry and Primary Resources Minister, Mr. Pehin Dato Yahya Bakar.
Brunei Darussalam is applying to be a Party to CTI-CFF and has been extended Observer State status.
Ambassador Moriarty represented the CTI-CFF Partners in the meeting, along with Mr. Alfred Nakatsuma of the U.S. Agency for International Development Regional Development Mission for Asia, Ms. Nicole Glineur of the Global Environment Facility, and Mr. Adrian Ruthenberg of the Asian Development Bank.