Remarks by Ambassador Blake on Coral Triangle Initiative at UNIPA, Papua

I’d like to start out by thanking the rector of UNIPA, Dr. Mofus, the Dean of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Marine & Fisheries, Dr. Warsono, and representatives from Conservation International.

I’m delighted to be here to visit the university and highlight the work of the Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center. Under the Comprehensive Partnership, the U.S. and Indonesia are working together on a wide variety of shared interests and challenges, including the environment.

One of our most important areas of collaboration is to support better marine resources management. Indonesia has some of the richest marine biodiversity resources in the entire world. The United Nations estimates that Indonesia’s coral reefs support jobs for six million people and contribute around 10% of Indonesia’s GDP.

But Indonesia’s marine biodiversity is suffering from sharp declines. According to a recent “Reefs at Risk” report, the percentage of degraded reefs jumped from ten to fifty percent over the last fifty years. Eighty eight percent now face high to moderate threats.

Yet these risks and causes are not well understood. That’s why USAID and the National Science Foundation (NSF) helped create the Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center. This center aims to catalyze research and build partnerships between U.S. and Indonesian universities and research centers.

These form part of USAID’s five-year, 35 million dollar Marine Resources Program that also includes work on: marine projected area governance, a capacity-building program with the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and university partnerships on biodiversity conservation with UCLA and marine pharma with USC.

In West Papua, we’re working with Conservation International to continue Coral Triangle Conservation, and establish and manage 20 million hectares of Marine Protected Areas by 2020.

I’m thrilled to be here, thanks again for having us.