2 July 2013 – Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario chaired the 11th ministerial meeting of the Southwest Pacific Dialogue (SwPD) on July 01 in the margins of the 46th ASEAN Ministerial Meetings and other related meetings in Brunei Darussalam.
The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Bob Carr of Australia, Foreign Minister Marty Natelagawa of Indonesia, Foreign Minister Murray McCully of New Zealand, Foreign Minister Jose Luis Guterres of Timor-Leste and High Commissioner Veali Vagi of Papua New Guinea.
The Secretary led the discussions on marine ecotourism. He said, “The Philippines and its co-members in the SwPD share a common marine environment which faces threats of climate change, pollution, destruction, and degradation. Marine ecotourism empowers local communities in the protection and management of our coastal areas and seas... We are taking a holistic approach by involving our local communities in tourism development and safeguarding natural heritage sites.” The Secretary proposed cooperation among SwPD countries on capacity-building, education, and sharing of best practices on marine ecotourism. He also suggested that SwPD participating countries explore the establishment of a diving circuit in the region.
The SwPD Ministers endorsed the proposal for marine ecotourism cooperation. They also discussed cooperation on the sustainable management of fisheries resources as well as the problem of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Other matters tabled during the meeting were development cooperation in the Pacific, and connectivity in the ASEAN and wider Asia Pacific regions.
The SwPD was established in 2002 as a forum among countries linking the Southeast Asia and Pacific regions namely, Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, New Zealand and Timor-Leste, to exchange views and information on various issues and areas of cooperation.
Timor-Leste will host the next SwPD in 2014 in Myanmar. END