Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Southeast Asia is endowed with a very rich marine biodiversity. The region contains nearly 100,000 square kilometres of coral reefs, or almost 34 per cent of the world’s total. It is the global centre of biodiversity for coral reef fish, mollusks, and crustaceans and is home to 51 of the world’s 70 mangrove species and 23 of the 50 seagrass species. Mangroves in the region occupy over 61,000 square kilometres, 62 per cent of which are found in Indonesia.
However, this biodiversity-rich region is under threat. According to a coral ecologist from Curtin University in Australia, over the past 40 years, nearly all of Southeast Asia’s marine coastalecosystems have experienced intense pressures due to large-scale economic development, urbanisation, and deforestation. Pollutants, toxic substances, microplastics, and pathogens from sewage and garbage that go untreated into the ocean aggravate the situation, but the lack of data and information on this threat makes it difficult for AMS to address.
Recent assessments indicate that only 4.00 per cent of the ASEAN region’s coastal and marine
area has been put under some form of conservation. More work must be done considering
that 88 per cent of the region’s coral reefs is at risk. To date, only 22 per cent of the 82 marine
key biodiversity areas (KBAs) identified in the region has been placed under marine protected
area (MPA) status.
AMS have pursued collective land- and marine-based initiatives to reduce anthropogenic
pressure on the environment. Collectively and individually, most of these initiatives are
considered process indicators―the number of plans, programmes, and strategies related
to the protection and management of marine and coastal ecosystems―as described in the
technical rationale of Aichi Target 10 by COP/CBD.
The Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security (CTI), a collective
action involving Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and three other countries outside the
ASEAN, covers a region with the highest coral diversity and the highest coral reef fish diversity
in the world. CTI, the first multilateral cooperation of its kind, focuses on food security through sustainable management and climate change impacts.
The ASEAN region is the global centre of biodiversity for coral reef fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. Recent assessments indicate that only 4.0 per cent of the region’s coastal and marin area has been put under some form of conservation. This progress is miniscule considering that 88.0 percent of the region’s coral reefs are at risk, with half at “high” or “very high” level of threat.