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Philippines President Arroyo Briefs Nat Geo on Coral Triangle Initiative

After meeting with President Obama last week, Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo stopped by National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., to talk about conservation in the Pacific’s Coral Triangle region.

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Spread across a vast swath of ocean spanning Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, and the Solomon Islands–an area half the size of the United States–the Coral Triangle has the highest diversity of marine life of any area on Earth.

The Philippines and other Coral Triangle nations this year launched officially the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security, It is the largest reef conservation program ever undertaken. (Read more about this here.)

Arroyo (in the picture on the left) was a featured speaker during a program at National Geographic, and she also met privately with NGS President and CEO John Fahey (in the center of the picture) and National Geographic Fellow and marine ecologist Enric Sala.

“President Arroyo has shown global leadership in marine conservation,” Sala said after the meeting. “She is one of the key leaders of the Coral Triangle Initiative, an example of international cooperation to ensure economic and ecological sustainability in a region of unique biodiversity value.

“As President Arroyo said, ‘this is not an either-or choice.’ We must ensure a healthy environment for the sake of healthy and wealthy coastal communities. This includes the people who don’t live in the Coral Triangle region but who enjoy the goods and services provided by the marine ecosystem of the region, such as tuna,” Sala said.

Fahey and Sala briefed Arroyo on National Geographic’s developing ocean initiative, and offered to help publicize her pioneering efforts in order to inspire other leaders to follow. “She was happy to hear about our plans and agreed to help,” Sala said.

Fahey presented Arroyo with a framed clown fish photo taken by NG photographer David Doubilet in the Philippines.

NGS photo by Mark Thiessen, reporting by Karen Gilmour