Local fishermen launch their boat at Valu Beach, in Nino Konis Santana National Park

The Coral Triangle Initiative

The Coral Triangle​​​ contains the most marine species on earth and supports the livelihoods of nearly 400 million people.

© World Wildlife Fund, Inc. / Matthew Abbott

Spanning 6 million square kilometers (2.3 million square miles) of the archipelagic waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste the Coral Triangle has the highest coral and reef fish diversity globally and provides vital spawning grounds for whales, turtles and other charismatic species. And one third of the people depend on these waters for their livelihoods.

These abundant and valuable marine and coastal resources are under threat from unsustainable fishing, rapid population growth and the effects of climate change. The Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) is an agreement forged between the countries of the Coral Triangle to work together to combat these threats and sustain this extraordinary environment and all it provides to human well-being.

Our role

As a founding partner of the CTI since its inception in 2007, Conservation International works with governments, communities and other stakeholders to help them achieve sustainable change.

Following the first guiding principle of the CTI — "Support people-centered biodiversity conservation, sustainable development, poverty reduction and equitable benefit sharing" — our focus is on empowering people to sustainably manage marine ecosystems so they can support their well-being, now and into the future. Our guidance has been requested by partners, communities and governments, allowing us to work across sectors and at all levels. By connecting the efforts in-country to the wider region, we are ensuring that successes are amplified, creating momentum from the ground-up for changes that last.

Our plan

At the regional level, we are strengthening coordination and knowledge sharing among CTI governments, representatives and managers, aiming to help the region fully progress toward the widespread implementation of Seascapes: large-scale, ecosystem-based approach to marine resource management, with a strong focus on climate change adaptation. Conservation International also facilitates a regional exchange and collaboration, and works to integrate successes and lessons learned into management guidelines that can be adapted and shared throughout the region.

​At the local level, we are building the capacity of local communities, governments and stakeholders to sustainably manage their own marine and coastal resources. Community-based projects in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste help individual people and communities to provide for themselves through the sustained wealth of their natural resources. Conservation International also has a particular focus on Seascapes policy and implementation, marine protected area management, promoting sustainable livelihoods, developing management plans and creating practices that are low cost, feasible within the biological, social and political context of the each geography, and will prepare communities for the impacts of climate change.

© CI/photo by Panji Laksmana

By the numbers

10,600 people trained

Through the collaborative support of the Australian Government, USAID, and others, thousands of people throughout the Coral Triangle have been trained in natural resource management and biodiversity conservation. Conservation International worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to develop these trainings.

 The fisheries are my only income… If everyone looks after the resources and fisheries properly, in 10 years’ time there will still be enough fish for me to send my kids to university. 

Leonardo DaCosta, fisherman from the Com community, Timor-Leste 

Focus areas

Yellow fish and coral reef in the ocean in Birds Head Seascape, Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia.
© CI/Sterling Zumbrunn

Building a regional seascapes policy

The Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) Team at Conservation International is collaborating with the countries of the Coral Triangle to create a CTI Seascapes policy and implementation model. This aims to advance large-scale marine management in this region based on CI’s Seascapes Approach.

This single policy will be adapted to the incredibly diverse Coral Triangle region, which consists of millions of square kilometers of tropical islands, coral reefs, and mangroves and is home to six countries and thousands of cultures and languages. This represents the first time that Seascapes will be adopted and pursued through a formal multi-country agreement.

Learn more about Seascapes »

Milne Bay
© William Crosse

New approaches to community-based resource management

The Coral Triangle Initiative Team at Conservation International is working with local partners to develop and pilot low-cost methods to spread the reach of community-based resource management to the most remote coastal villages of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

These innovative approaches are equipping community mentors and government officers with easy-to-use management guidance that empowers communities to take resource conservation actions themselves. Youth programs that teach coral reef monitoring and ecology are inspiring a new generation of ocean stewards who actively spread environmental awareness from community-to-community.

Women in Aek Banir village near Batang Gadis National Park, Mandailing Natal, North Sumatra, carry home firewood.
© CI/Tory Read

Bringing women into the discussion

Working closely with local partners, Conservation International’s Coral Triangle Initiative team are promoting widespread understanding of the vital role that women play in marine resource use and management. Through survey interviews and in-depth discussions, we are gathering the input of local women and learning from the experience of partner organizations to determine how to better integrate women into resource management. In the Coral Triangle, women are often left out of discussion and decisions on how their resources are managed. We are working with partners to enhance the voices of women in the projects and decisions that impact their communities.

Learn more about conservation and gender »

Watching "Gwala Rising"

'Gwala Rising in the Bwanabwana Islands' depicts the revitalization of traditional conservation practices in the islands of Papua New Guinea. The community of Anagusa Island is combating the effects of climate change and protecting the coral reefs they rely on using gwala: the traditional practice of setting aside a reef or forest area to allow the ecosystem to recover. Gwala is helping the community of Anagusa Island prosper - empowering men and women with improved access to food and livelihoods.

A Nation of Opportunity

As a new nation, Timor-Leste is in a position to set a precedent for sustainable resource management, ensuring the protection of its exceptional marine environment for the current generation and generations to come. The Timorese people have already made huge leaps in protecting their important marine and coastal resources through the creation of Nino Konis Santana National Park in 2007 and the establishment of community-based monitoring programs and essential no-take zones within the park’s boundaries.

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