Climate Change Adaptation for Coral Triangle Communities: A Guide for Vulnerability Assessment and Local Early Action Planning
The Coral Triangle is located along the equator at the confluence of the Western Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. It covers all or part of the exclusive economic zones of six countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste. Considered the global epicenter of marine life abundance and diversity, the Coral Triangle possesses 76 percent of all known coral species, 37 percent of all known coral reef fish species, 53 percent of the world’s coral reefs, the greatest extent of mangrove forests in the world, and spawning and juvenile growth areas for the world’s largest tuna fishery (Veron et al., 2009). Climate change will dramatically affect coastal and marine ecosystems in the Coral Triangle. Sea-level rise, storm surge, sea surface temperature rise, ocean acidification, and other climate change related impacts increase risks to Coral Triangle communities and the natural resources upon which they depend.
The six Coral Triangle countries came together in 2007 to form a multilateral partnership called the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security (CTI-CFF) to safeguard the marine and coastal resources of the Coral Triangle region. The CTI-CFF Regional Plan of Action (RPOA) was launched in 2009 by the leaders of the six Coral Triangle countries. The RPOA adopts ecosystem- based management (EBM) as a framework for marine and coastal management (CTI-CFF, 2009). One of five goals identified in the CTI-CFF RPOA, “Goal 4: Climate Change Adaptation Measures Achieved,” targets reducing the vulnerability of communities to climate change. Planned climate adaptation must be considered in all CTI-CFF RPOA goals. Reducing risks from coastal hazards including those related to climate change is critical to achieving social and ecological resilience and other outcomes of EBM (US CTI Support Program, 2013).
The importance of addressing climate change was reinforced through the development of the “Region- wide Early Action Plan for Climate Change Adaptation for the Nearshore Marine and Coastal Environment and Small Island Ecosystems (REAP-CCA)” (CTI- CFF, 2011). The six Coral Triangle countries adopted the REAP-CCA as a guiding framework. The REAP- CCA sets forth urgent and immediate actions that need to be taken across the Coral Triangle to build coastal community resilience to climate change (CTI- CFF, 2011). This guide, Climate Change Adaptation for Coral Triangle Communities: A Guide for Vulnerability Assessment and Local Early Action Planning (LEAP Guide), was developed to catalyze local early action in coastal communities through education and outreach, vulnerability assessment, and local early action planning.