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ASEAN leaders gather to chart path for nature conservation and sustainable dev’t

QUEZON CITY (PIA) -- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) convened for a two-day meeting aimed at formulating a comprehensive action plan to protect and preserve the region's natural resources in alignment with the newly established global biodiversity targets known as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

The 33rd Meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on Nature and Conservation and Biodiversity (AWGNCB), hosted and chaired by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB), brought together influential policymakers from ASEAN member nations on June 20-21, 2023 in Pasay City.

Their collective objective is to explore strategies to safeguard the abundant biodiversity of Southeast Asia and harness its sustainable utilization to bolster regional resilience, recovery, and economic development.

During the meeting, DENR-BMB Assistant Secretary Marcial Amaro, Jr., acting as the chair, emphasized the significance of regional cooperation and the pivotal role of AWGNCB in implementing the 23 new global biodiversity targets adopted in 2022. He urged intensified collaborative efforts, emphasizing that biodiversity challenges transcend national borders and require joint action to address critical issues such as ecosystem restoration, cross-border wildlife trade, and the mitigation of climate change impacts.

In addition to ASEAN member states, representatives from regional dialogue and development partners actively participated in the open session of the meeting. Organizations such as the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Enhanced Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument, GITEC-IGIP GmbH, Ministry of Environment of Japan, and Hanns Seidel Foundation joined the discussions.

The meeting covered various significant topics, including the declaration and nomination of new ASEAN Heritage Parks, updates on regional biodiversity programs and projects, such as the EU-supported Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in ASEAN, the ACB-KfW Small Grants Programme, and the Institutional Strengthening of the Biodiversity Sector in ASEAN supported by the GIZ. Furthermore, the meeting highlighted the recognition of the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes, outcomes of the first cycle of the ASEAN Green Initiative, achievements of the 15th UN Biodiversity Conference, and the region's future strategies towards the attainment of global biodiversity targets. The involvement of youth representatives through the ASEAN Youth Biodiversity Programme, recently institutionalized by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), further enriched the discussions.

ACB Executive Director Dr. Theresa Mundita S. Lim reiterated the critical importance of regional cooperation and cross-sectoral collaboration in maximizing the value of biological resources for the benefit of the ASEAN community. She expressed gratitude to the Philippine government for its leadership in advancing biodiversity mainstreaming and sustainable development agendas within the region.

With the ASEAN member states aligning their efforts, this meeting marked a significant step towards fostering a sustainable and resilient future for Southeast Asia, where biodiversity conservation and economic development can go hand in hand. (ACB / PIA-NCR)

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Alice Sicat

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Assistant Regional Director of PIA-NCR

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