Thumb sm
Cloud 9 Watchtower
Siargao Island
By Ralf Falbe
17 Feb 2016

Watchtower at Cloud 9 surf resort, Siargao Island, Philippines.

Thumb sm
Thai-U.S Strategic Dialogue in Bangkok
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Senior delegations representing Thailand and the United States met on December 17, 2015 in Bangkok. Permanent Secretary Apichart Chinwanno led the Thailand delegation, and Assistant Secretary of State for EastAsian Daniel Russel led the US delegation.

As long-time treaty allies, the United States and Thailand reaffirmed their shared commitment to promoting peace, security, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

Recognizing Thailand’s regional leadership role and the United States’ vital contributions to peace and stability, the two sides engaged in a comprehensive discussion of issues within Southeast Asia and across the broader Asia-Pacific region.

The United States reaffirmed its support for ASEAN centrality in the Asia-Pacific regional architecture.  The two sides discussed ways to enhance their cooperation in regional frameworks, including the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI), the East Asia Summit (EAS), and the ASEAN-US Strategic Partnership, with a view to tackling common challenges as well as contributing to greater stability and prosperity of the region.  Both sides recognized Thailand’s active engagement in the LMI and look forward to enhancing cooperation under the framework in the areas of education, energy, public health, science and technology, innovation, and women’s empowerment.  The two delegations underscored the importance of coordinating assistance in the region and of supporting Lao People’s Democratic Republic 2016 ASEAN Chairmanship.  The U.S. delegation noted that President Barack Obama looks forward to hosting leaders from all ten ASEAN nations, including Thailand, at the ASEAN-U.S. Special Summit early next year.

The two sides reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability, ensuring maritime security and safety, and freedom of navigation, including in and over-flight above the South China Sea.  The delegations noted the need to avoid the militarization of the disputed areas. The two sides also reaffirmed their support for on-going efforts by ASEAN and China to fully and effectively implement the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety, and to work toward the expeditious conclusion of an effective Code of Conduct (COC).

On bilateral issues, both sides affirmed their enduring treaty alliance and the strategic importance of their relations.  The two delegations discussed ways to further strengthen and expand areas of cooperation, including public health workforce development, medical research, creative economy, prevention and suppression of trafficking in persons and forced labor, law enforcement cooperation, and training through the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA), as well as trade and investment.

The two sides reaffirmed the value of Thailand-U.S. defense cooperation and look forward to continuing to implement the 2012 Joint Vision Statement by strengthening cooperation on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, global peacekeeping, and military medical research, among other defense engagements.  The United States welcomed Thailand’s pledge at President Obama’s September 2015 Peacekeeping Summit to contribute civil development, engineering, and medical teams to future United Nations peacekeeping missions, and looks forward to continuing to work with Thailand as feasible on capacity building and training of peacekeepers from regional countries through Thailand’s Peacekeeping Operation Centre.  The two sides also look forward to resuming their Defense Strategic Talks at the earliest opportunity.

Furthermore, the two sides also identified practical ways to expand their comprehensive partnership to benefit their respective countries, the region, and beyond.  In particular, Thailand and the United States agreed to hold the first Joint Commission Meeting under their bilateral Science and Technology Agreement in Thailand in the first half of 2016.  The two countries look forward to expanding trade and investment ties and agreed to hold the next round of talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) as soon as possible in 2016.  The United States recognized Thailand’s leadership in the area of public health.  Both sides are committed to working together to detect, prevent, and respond to infectious disease threats and address public health challenges through both bilateral and multilateral mechanisms. The two delegations noted that a five-year plan is being developed to achieve the targets of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA).  They also agreed to explore the possibility of establishing a bilateral public health coordination mechanism.

The two governments recognized the importance of education and people-to-people connectivity.  In line with President Obama’s priorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, the two sides discussed future bilateral cooperation and the co-organization of a regional STEM workshop in 2016.  The two governments pledged their recommitment to the Thailand-U.S. Creative Partnership, launched at the 2010 U.S.-Thailand Strategic Dialogue, which identifies new opportunities for collaborative ingenuity between the two countries.

Recognizing Thailand’s efforts and contributions in addressing global challenges, the two sides also discussed enhanced cooperation on climate change; disease prevention and control; irregular migration and human trafficking; humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; peacekeeping; and counterterrorism. The two sides welcomed the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit.

The delegations discussed current political developments in Thailand and the country’s commitment to  implementing comprehensive reforms and a return to sustainable democracy.  Both sides also affirmed the importance of promoting universal human rights and humanitarian cooperation.

Looking forward, the two sides welcomed continued robust, candid exchanges on these and other issues and a continued exchange of visits in the future.  The two sides agreed to hold the Sixth U.S.-Thailand Strategic Dialogue in the United States in 2016.

 

Thumb sm
Thai-US Summit 01
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Thumb sm
Thai-US Summit 02
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcoming to Mr. Daniel R. Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia.

Thumb sm
Thai-US Summit 03
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Mr. Daniel R. Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia.

Thumb sm
Thai-US Summit 04
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Mr. Daniel R. Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian.

Thumb sm
Thai-US Summit 05
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Mr. Daniel R. Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia.

Thumb sm
Thai-US Summit 06
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

U.S. delegation at the 5th Thai-US strategic dialogue.

Thumb sm
Thai-US Summit 07
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Mr. Daniel R. Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs gives a speech to the press media.

Thumb sm
Thai-US Summit 08
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs gives a speech to the press media.

Thumb sm
Thai-US Summit 09
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs speaking to the press media.

Document thumbnail
Sample media
Sinking States: Climate Change and th...
By Gemima Harvey
31 Jan 2015

The Pacific Islands are on the front lines of climate change, their shores nibbled away by a swollen tideline. This article explores the perils associated with a warming planet, using the Pacific region as a case study, drawing on the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. It also addresses Australia's apparent disregard of the need to look toward renewable energy sources and examines the concept of 'climate refugees'.

Thumb sm
Coral Triangle
Coral Triangle
By Mark_Esplin
10 Jun 2014

The Coral Triangle is one of the world’s most important natural resources. It is an area of ocean that covers 5.4 million km2, where more biodiversity can be found than anywhere else on Earth.

The 3,000+ species of fish, and vast coral reefs, provide livelihoods and food for an estimated 130 million people in the region. Millions more throughout the world also benefit from the bounty of natural resources, provided by the Coral Triangle.

But all is not well in paradise. Scientists, environmentalists, economists and governments, are increasingly worried for the future of this ecosystem. In the last forty years alone, the Coral Triangle has incurred substantial losses of 40% to its reefs and mangroves.

Projections suggest this rate of degradation is likely to continue, or increase into the future. With such significant numbers of people reliant on this natural resource, there is a potential catastrophe of global proportions waiting to happen.

Thumb sm
Esplin120711_2385.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
11 Jul 2012

The rate of ocean acidification is expected to accelerate in the near future. Since the industrial revolution, ocean acidification has increased by 30%. Scientists believe that this rate is faster than anything previously experienced over the last 55 million years.

The problem is that even a mild change in PH levels has significant impact on animals with calcium carbonate shells or skeletons. They literally dissolve. Affected animals include krill and plankton as well as coral. This means that the bottom of the food web could potentially become extinct, and in turn so could fish, according to Zoologist Kent Carpenter: "If corals themselves are at risk of extinction and do in fact go extinct, that will most probably lead to a cascade effect where we will lose thousands and thousands of other species that depend on coral reefs.”

Thumb sm
Esplin120710_2336.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
10 Jul 2012

A fisherman wades through the shallows carrying a handful of possessions after a mornings fishing trip.

Attempts to educate fishermen have been made by the environmental community, and attitudes are slowly changing. The Coral Triangle Initiative announced that it saw a decrease in the use of destructive fishing methods in 2012. Although, they stated that other threats such as Population increase, pollution and sedimentation have increased considerably.

Thumb sm
Esplin120710_2384.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
10 Jul 2012

A fisherman on Palawan Island in the Philippines prepares for a fishing voyage out to sea.

Scientists have predicted that by 2100, global temperature rise could result in the extinction of coral in the Coral Triangle. This would lead to an 80% reduction in regional food production.

Thumb sm
Esplin120710_2333.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
09 Jul 2012

Fishers tend to target bigger fish, which act as predators in the food web. Biologists have observed a change in the Philippines' species composition, and an increase of fishing for small oceanic fish – anchovies, etc. This is a good indication of overfishing, and of gradual stock collapse, as fishers can no longer catch larger fish to support themselves.

Thumb sm
Esplin120709_2331.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
09 Jul 2012

The Philippines Government admits that all targeted species in the Philippines are showing signs of overfishing. Officials also recognise that the current approach to fishing is unsustainable. “Overall, the harvest rate of Philippine fisheries is approximately 30 percent higher than the maximum sustainable yield, which will likely trigger stock collapses in the absence of increased management.” (Department of Environment and Natural Resources)

Thumb sm
Esplin120709_2330.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
09 Jul 2012

The majority of people within the Coral Triangle are living in poverty. This increases the social and economic importance of reefs, and reduces their ability to adapt to depleting fish supplies.

Thumb sm
Esplin120709_2382.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
09 Jul 2012

The threats to the Coral Triangle are numerous, and often vary from site to site. As such there is not a single answer to the problems faced by these ecosystems. Nevertheless, wide ranges of solutions are being adopted in an attempt to curb this degradation. These include: Marine Protected areas (MPA), gear restrictions, and catch regulations.

Thumb sm
Esplin120709_2353.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
09 Jul 2012

A decline in reef biodiversity does not only affect local communities and subsistence fishermen’s food security, though they are likely the hardest hit. According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), natural capital contributes significantly to manufacturing and service economies, that in-turn helps stabilise a nations food security. In their report ‘TEEB – The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for National and International Policy Makers’ the UNEP suggest one systemic cause for a lack of local will power to preserve natural resources. “Benefits depend on local stewardship, local knowledge and, in some cases, foregoing opportunities for economic development – yet people on the ground often receive little or no payment for the services they help to generate. This can make it more economically attractive to exploit the resource rather than preserve assets of global worth.”

Thumb sm
Esplin120709_2386.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
09 Jul 2012

Government figures state that 67% of animal protein in the Philippines is comprised of fish and fish products. This makes fish the nations most important food source, next to rice.

Thumb sm
Esplin120709_2351.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
09 Jul 2012

A fisherman prepares his line in a small wooden shack as his daughter plays behind. Surrounded by sublime tropical waters, the 7,000+ island shorelines of the Philippines are home to 40 million people - 45% of its population.

Thumb sm
Esplin120709_2350.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
09 Jul 2012

Hook and line fishing techniques are seen as a solution compared to large scale commercial methods like trawler nets, that are considered dramatically unsustainable. Commercial fishing is having a drastic impact on fish stocks around the globe. Populations of targeted species such as Bluefin Tuna and Cod have reduced 90% since the 1960s, according to professors at the University of British Columbia.

Thumb sm
Esplin120709_2349.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
09 Jul 2012

Hook and line fishing techniques are seen as a solution compared to large scale commercial methods like trawler nets, that are considered dramatically unsustainable. Commercial fishing is having a drastic impact on fish stocks around the globe. Populations of targeted species such as Bluefin Tuna and Cod have reduced 90% since the 1960s, according to professors at the University of British Columbia.

Thumb sm
Esplin120709_2347.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
09 Jul 2012

It is not only coral reefs that are affected by global warming. Other important environments, such as mangrove forests and sea grass beds, which provide habitats for hundreds of thousands of fish species and other organisms, are also threatened. Further destruction and loss to these domains will have profound effects on the productivity of costal regions and the lives of people reliant on them.

Thumb sm
Esplin120707_2383.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
07 Jul 2012

According to the WWF, “The decreased productivity of coastal ecosystems will reduce the food resources and income available to coastal communities in the Coral Triangle. By 2050, coastal ecosystems will only be able to provide 50% of the fish protein that they do today, leading to increasing pressure on coastal agriculture and aquaculture.”

Thumb sm
Esplin120705_2345.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
05 Jul 2012

The coral triangle is located in South East Asia and supports 120 million people, across 6 countries, over an area of 1.6 billion acres. Overfishing, pollution, overpopulation and climate change are putting this essential ecosystem in danger.

Thumb sm
Esplin120705_2344.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
05 Jul 2012

The coral triangle is located in South East Asia and supports 120 million people, across 6 countries, over an area of 1.6 billion acres. Overfishing, pollution, overpopulation and climate change are putting this essential ecosystem in danger.

Thumb sm
Esplin120705_2343.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
05 Jul 2012

Tourist diving boats float above a reef in the North-East Philippines. Such tours can have a devastating impact on the health of reefs as participants inevitably kick or displace coral formations. The excess pollution caused by nearby hotels and resorts are an often unseen yet leading factor to the decline of a reefs health.

Thumb sm
Esplin120705_2380.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
05 Jul 2012

The coral triangle is located in South East Asia and supports 120 million people, across 6 countries, over an area of 1.6 billion acres. Overfishing, pollution, overpopulation and climate change are putting this essential ecosystem in danger.

Thumb sm
Esplin120705_2388.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
05 Jul 2012

The coral triangle is located in South East Asia and supports 120 million people, across 6 countries, over an area of 1.6 billion acres. Overfishing, pollution, overpopulation and climate change are putting this essential ecosystem in danger.

Thumb sm
Esplin120704_2339.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
04 Jul 2012

Government statistics suggest that in one year 1,370 tons of coral trout alone were exported, creating revenues of US$140 million. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) disputes this figure; suggesting high incidences of illegal and unreported trafficking, significantly expand the official records. They go on to state relaxed trade agreements are one of the leading factors creating additional demand on the Philippines reefs resources.

Thumb sm
Esplin120704_2338.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
04 Jul 2012

Government statistics suggest that in one year 1,370 tons of coral trout alone were exported, creating revenues of US$140 million. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) disputes this figure; suggesting high incidences of illegal and unreported trafficking, significantly expand the official records. They go on to state relaxed trade agreements are one of the leading factors creating additional demand on the Philippines reefs resources.

Thumb sm
Esplin120704_2337.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
04 Jul 2012

According to the Coral Triangle initiative, “The impacts of overfishing and to some extent destructive fishing practices on coral reefs are evident in the biomass of reef associated fish." It is reported that more than 50% of the reef sites in the Philippines assessed are overfished.

Thumb sm
Esplin120623_2381.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
23 Jun 2012

A fisherman farms abalone instead of heading out to sea to fish. Communities throughout the Philippines are being encouraged to seek alternative sources of income from fishing. According to the WWF, “The decreased productivity of coastal ecosystems will reduce the food resources and income available to coastal communities in the Coral Triangle. By 2050, coastal ecosystems will only be able to provide 50% of the fish protein that they do today, leading to increasing pressure on coastal agriculture and aquaculture.”

Thumb sm
Esplin120622_2389.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
22 Jun 2012

The cultivation of kelp and seaweed for pharmaceutical industries is being developed by some communities as an alternative source of income to prevent an over reliance of fishing for an income, thereby reducing the stress on local fish populations.

Thumb sm
Esplin120620_2327.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
20 Jun 2012

Children play in a harbour in the Southern Philippines. Scientists have predicted that by 2100, global temperature rise could result in the extinction of coral in the Coral Triangle. This would lead to an 80% reduction in regional food production.

Thumb sm
Esplin120619_2387.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
19 Jun 2012

A child helps sort the catch on a small fishing vessel in the Southern Philippines. With nine percent of the total global reef cover, its national waters provide significant annual fish yield. Increasingly, fish catch are being sold for export, with China and Hong Kong the primary destination.
There is a billion-dollar enterprise in the Asia-Pacific region for live reef food fish trade (LRRFFT). The Philippines is a significant contributor to this industry.

Thumb sm
Esplin120618_2379.jpg
By Mark_Esplin
18 Jun 2012

A Filipino fisherman wears a mask to protect against the sun as he spends the morning catching octopus from a small canoe. Though largely seen as being sustainable, subsistence fishermen with a hook and line can still have an impact on their local ecology. Jared Diamond, an ecological anthropologist, claims the common belief that indigenous people conserve their resources is wrong. He writes that historically when people encounter the limits of their resources, catastrophe results.