Protecting Asia’s Coasts for People and Nature

12 September 2013 | News story

Hoi An, Viet Nam 11 September, 2013 - The 10th Regional Steering Committee of the Mangroves for the Future (MFF) initiative was opened today in Hoi An, Da Nang province, with representatives from the nine member countries convening to discuss efforts to protect coastal regions for people and for nature. This is the first time Viet Nam has hosted the meeting since becoming an MFF member country in 2010.

MFF is a regional initiative working to address climate change and developmental impacts on Asia's coasts and coastal dwellers. Started in 2007, the initiative works through National Coordinating Bodies in member countries to provide grants for local project delivery and other activities building resilience of ecosystem-dependent coastal communities. The initiative is currently funded by SIDA, NORAD and Danida and is co-chaired by IUCN and UNDP. Current member countries include Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

In his welcome remarks MFF Coordinator, Dr. Steen Christensen, applauded the Government of Viet Nam for its efforts in the area of coastal ecosystem management. With more than 3,260 km of coastline, 3,000 inshore islands and two offshore archipelagos, Viet Nam has an important role to play in protecting Asia’s coasts. Over the past three years, Viet Nam has been a very active participant in MFF, with more than 15 grants awarded to community-based projects that have helped to protect its rich coastal resources. The MFF Initiative has invested nearly US$1 million in coastal rehabilitation and livelihoods projects in Viet Nam since 2010.

"Viet Nam acknowledges MFF's emphasis on regional sharing of lessons and the collective efforts needed to tackle coastal issues. Viet Nam will benefit from MFF's continued support in addressing coastal challenges. We are committed in our efforts and look forward to increased participation in MFF's activities to ensure that coastal communities in Viet Nam are resilient to climate related impacts," said Pham Ngoc Son Deputy Administrator of Viet Nam Administration of Seas and Islands (VASI) on behalf of Vice Minister of Viet Nam's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE).

MFF activities in Viet Nam range from helping coastal communities improve their incomes through sustainable mangrove-based farming systems in Ben Tre province to engaging local people in the management of Xuan Thuy National Park, while also giving them access to the Park’s natural resources.
All over the world, and especially in Asia, where 60% of the population lives in coastal zones, human activities are increasingly contributing to the vulnerability of coastal communities. This is being exacerbated by climate change.

"We need to come to grips with the implications of these dangerous trends and introduce effective ways to manage our natural resources, while also allowing for economic growth and securing better lives for coastal communities. This is the reason we focus our resilience initiative on prevention and planning rather than response,"said Dr. Christensen.

MFF activities underpin the vital links between humans and natural systems. The initiative also stresses the importance of engaging all sectors in coastal management including governments, NGOs, local communities and, increasingly, the private sector.

"There is growing consensus that the private sector has a crucial role to play in finding sustainable solutions to environmental problems. Success in coastal management will largely depend on the will and proactive involvement of the private sector to move towards sustainable practices," said Aban Marker Kabraji, Regional Director IUCN Asia.

Speaking on the importance the MFF Initiative, MFF Co- Chair Joseph D'Cruz (UNDP) said, "As countries across the region work to sustain human development in an increasingly stressed environment and variable climate, partnership-based, bottom-up models such as MFF will be an important element of the strategy. The RSC meeting and associated learning event provide an invaluable opportunity for us to share knowledge and exchange experiences with a diverse and dynamic group of partners."

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:
Jane Lawton, Head, Communications
IUCN Asia Regional Office, Bangkok Thailand
jane.lawton@iucn.org
Phone : +66 81 831 9006
Thuy Anh Nguyen, Communications Officer
IUCN Viet Nam
ThuyAnh.NGUYEN@iucn.org
Phone : +84 91 645 1166
Sameer Singh Regional Communications Officer
IUCN Asia Regional Office, Bangkok, Thailand
sameer.singh@iucn.org
Phone : +66 81 850 3400 In Viet Nam : +84 0122 2755308