KOTA KINABALU (Oct 13): This week, Sabah is hosting an inter-regional learning exchange among marine conservationists from Southeast Asia and the Atlantic Basin, championing the need for stronger international ocean governance and collaboration. Supported by WWF-Malaysia, Sabah Parks and Sabah Tourism Board, the exchange aims to boost existing efforts towards marine conservation and sustainable development of the marine sector – not just in Sabah, Malaysia but also regionally and globally.
As part of the wider European Union-funded Ocean Governance Project, this is the second learning exchange organised together with the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) – a six-country multilateral platform that aims to safeguard the world’s richest marine resources and ensure the income, livelihoods and food security for millions who depend on these resources. Representatives from governments, academic institutions, conservation and community groups of over 16 countries are gathered to share best practices and lessons learnt to help overcome common challenges to effectively protecting and managing marine resources.
“More than ever, we are now aware of the need to restore the delicate balance between protecting the environment and sustaining economic growth, by retaining natural habitats and promoting sustainable use of resources,” stressed Dr Henry Chan, Conservation Director of WWF-Malaysia.
The Ocean Governance Project supports the EU’s objectives on global sustainable development, climate change and biodiversity protection. Covering two geographical regions – the Sulu Sulawesi Seascape shared by Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, as well as the Atlantic Basin, part of the Project’s mission is to promote and strengthen networking and partnerships among managers of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as a direct way to improve their skills and knowledge, thereby supporting management effectiveness of MPAs.
Chan added, “Located within the Coral Triangle – the world’s centre of marine biodiversity, Malaysia plays a critical role in sustaining the ocean health and wealth of this spectacular marine region. I believe our active role in the Ocean Governance Project will help propel marine conservation efforts on a larger scale, protect our ocean resources and the well-being of coastal people whose livelihoods are directly reliant on the health of our oceans.”
This cross-cutting project highlights Malaysia’s crucial role in ensuring balanced planetary health that promotes the belief in a shared ocean. This delicate balance will ensure the protection of marine life and the sustainability of the ecosystem is preserved in the long run. Momentously, future generations will be able to enjoy the beauty of a well-balanced marine ecosystem.
“Sabah Parks’ mission is to preserve areas in Sabah that contain outstanding natural values as heritage for the benefit of the people, now and in the future. On top of our existing coral restoration commitment in Tun Mustapha Park, we look forward to continue working closely with WWF-Malaysia through this Ocean Governance project to further contribute towards CTI-CFF activities on Marine Protected Areas,” states Dr Maklarin Lakim, Director of Sabah Parks.
CTI-CFF supports the effective management of MPAs by fostering knowledge exchange, promoting networks of connectivity and elevating management standards through certification. This second Learning Exchange programme promotes the sharing of information between marine park managers and practitioners from different countries and regions and aims to stimulate further periodical exchanges and networking between them.
“Sabah Tourism Board strongly believes that this project will greatly contribute towards the mutual sustainability goals. Sabah prides itself on its natural beauty and recognises that it holds immense value towards our tourism industry. Our flourishing tourism depends majorly on the protection and sustainability of our state, for the benefit of local communities. We anticipate that only great outcomes will be achieved through this project,” concluded Noredah Othman, Chief Executive Officer of Sabah Tourism Board.
It is only with such great hope and equal dedication committed to the objectives of this project that this collaborative effort is possible. Multiple stakeholders have come together with a shared vision to nurture areas where not only biodiversity and marine species are protected, but also the coastal communities who rely on it. Together, we are able to achieve milestones and attain conservation goals for the future of Sabah and generations to come.