Participants in a major conference in Indonesia this week have a rare opportunity to seek political commitment to utilizing the world’s oceans in the fight against climate change, a top official from the host country said.
The World Ocean Conference that opened Monday in the northern city of Manado will shape the scientific debate ahead of final negotiations to replace the U.N. treaty on global warming in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December. The Kyoto Protocol, the most important document on climate change, expires in 2012.
Officials hope the meeting on Sulawesi island will boost recognition of the need to protect oceans and marine ecosystems that absorb carbon dioxide.
The meeting “is an important opportunity to highlight the cumulative threats to our oceans, including the effects of climate change, and to seek political commitments,” Indonesian Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Minister Freddy Numberi said in opening remarks Monday.
He encouraged delegates to find ways to “stem the adverse impacts of climate change on our ocean resources for the sake of our children and our children’s children.”
One of the gathering’s main goals will be to create a permanent international forum to coordinate conservation attempts and counter the impact of rising oceans blamed on higher temperatures.
ndonesia, the world’s largest archipelago, will host a simultaneous summit of leaders from the Coral Triangle Initiative, a grouping of six Asian countries comprising one of the world’s richest marine areas.
The three-day gathering will be attended by host Indonesia and leaders from Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands and East Timor, whose territories boast 75 percent of all known coral species and more than 3,000 fish species.