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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs   3 October 2013  

Philippines, Malaysia to receive $4.5M environment grant

The Philippines and Malaysia will be recipients of a US$4.5 million worth of environmental grant funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the World Bank announced Monday.

This will support the “Capturing Coral Reef and Related Ecosystem Services Project” which aims to design innovative models for valuing mangrove, sea grass and coral reef ecosystems services.

It aims to inform environmental policies for an improved and effective protection of these critical resources, it added.

The World Bank said that the project focuses on the two countries whose coral reefs and related ecosystem services are “critical to livelihoods, food security and climate resilience.” It will also quantify the value and market potential of coral reef and mangrove ecosystem services and “forge community-led innovation in capturing and sustaining benefits from marine eco-system services.”

Furthermore, the project would also enhance the two countries’ resilience in the face of climate change and promote behavior change through outreach and widely disseminate scientific information to inform policy- and decision-making.

“Capturing the economic and cultural values of marine natural capital through the valuation of ecosystem services, and quantifying the cost of lost services due to environmental degradation, has enormous potential. We can transform the development and stewardship of coastal areas by translating ecological value into financial terms for local stakeholders and policy makers,” said Marea Hatziolos, Senior Environmental Specialist and the World Bank’s team leader for the project.

According to the World Bank, the world’s biodiversity epicenter lies within the “Coral Triangle – an area that extends from the northern Philippines to Malaysia in the west, East Timor to the South, Eastern Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to the East and trailing off to the Solomon Islands toward the Southeast.”

Coral reefs are most abundant and diverse in these areas and support large populations of people who are highly dependent on coral reef fisheries for the livelihoods and food security. “In the Western and Central Pacific, healthy coral reefs and mangroves form the first critical line of defense against storm surge and sea-level rise for low lying islands and atolls,” it added.

“This wealth of natural capital has the potential to be a major driver of inclusive green growth in the region, if we overcome some huge challenges. We especially need better resource governance regimes, measures to adequately value the environment for current and future generations when calculating economic benefits, and good scientific information to inform decision making and tradeoffs,” Hatziolos added.

The GEF grant will be administered by the Global Change Institute of the University of Queensland.

The University is contributing US$2 million in additional financing and research partners will provide another $3.9 million in contributions. An additional $21.9 million in parallel co-financing is provided by World Bank-financed projects: the Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Management Program-Coral Triangle Initiative (COREMAP-CTI) in Indonesia and the Rural Development Project in the Philippines.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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