Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu on Friday urged governments to invest more in scientific research for the conservation and protection of the world’s coral reefs.

“We recognize that science is pivotal in shaping plans, policies and programs for coral reefs and associated ecosystems. It is thus imperative that we continue to support scientists and provide investment to generate more relevant researches,” Cimatu said in his speech at the closing of the 4th Asia-Pacific Coral Reef Symposium (APCRS) held in Cebu City.

The symposium, held from June 4 to 8, brought together around 600 scientists and researchers from 34 countries who champion coral reef research and conservation in the Asia-Pacific region. It was organized by the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in partnership with the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute.

Cimatu also underscored the need to create a regional platform not just for sharing of ideas, but a “community bound with a common vision and passion for the environment and for the ocean.”

“Let us work hand in hand in order to translate all of these research outputs, studies, knowledge and experiences into implementable policies and programs,” Cimatu said.

According to the environment chief, each partner stakeholder – government, academe, local community, civil society, private groups, and the international community – plays a crucial role in the protection and conservation of coral reefs. “Let us strive for excellence in accomplishing our tasks together,” he said.

Coral reefs are important for many different reasons aside from supposedly containing the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. They protect coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms, provide habitats and shelter for many marine organisms, among others.

However, coral reefs have suffered because of global warming, polluted waters and more direct human harm, such as through unethical overfishing.

This year’s ACPRS, which carries the theme, “Coral Reefs of the Asia-Pacific: Working Together Amidst Contemporary Challenges,” coincides with the observance of the International Year of the Reef (IYOR).

IYOR is a year-long campaign of events and initiatives hosted by governments and non-governmental organizations around the world, to promote conservation action and strengthen long-term collaborations for coral reef conservation. 2018 marks the third IYOR and is hosted by the Philippines. ###