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ASEAN SecGen affirms support to biodiversity conservation

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna (PIA) – Association of Southeast Asian Nations Secretary-General Dr. Kao Kim Hourn has reaffirmed his commitment to preserving the Southeast Asian region’s biodiversity as it emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic amidst environmental challenges.

Dr. Hourn led the celebration of the 18th founding anniversary of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and ceremonial tree planting held at its headquarters at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, Laguna on September 10 where he commended the center for its crucial role in ASEAN cooperation on environment programs and biodiversity conservation.

“The ACB is ASEAN’s own dedicated regional center of excellence on biodiversity. Since its establishment back in 2005, ACB has developed to becoming an essential and integral part of ASEAN cooperation on environment and an effective coordinating body for the ASEAN Member States on biodiversity conservation,” Dr. Hourn said. 

Citing pandemic recovery and climate change in the forefront, the Secretary-General noted that ASEAN will need to step up its efforts to promote nature-based solutions, best practices, and greening initiatives.

He added the relevance of ACB’s work to meet such objectives through its flagship programs namely the ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHPs), the ASEAN Green Initiative (AGI), and the ASEAN Youth Biodiversity Program.

Some of the programs and initiatives highlighted by the ACB include the protection and conservation of 57 ASEAN heritage parks and AG’s greening program which aims to increase tree cover and restore ecosystems in the 10 ASEAN member states by planting at least 10 million native trees in 10 years.

The Secretary-General said the ASEAN member states’ continuing support to the ACB will guarantee the protection and enrichment of forests, wetlands, marine and coastal waters, and other natural resources for the nearly 700 million people in the region.

"I would like to call on all ASEAN Member States, Dialogue Partners, and External Partners and friends to continue extending support to the ACB. By supporting the ACB in terms of activities, programs, and projects, it means also supporting the ASEAN community," emphasized Dr. Hourn.

He added: "Given the growing importance of the environment in the context of climate change and the climate crisis, it is important for ASEAN and all of us to support and advocate what I call biodiversity diplomacy for the collective and public good of ASEAN and humanity."

ASEAN Secretary-General Dr. Kao Kim Hourn said the ASEAN member states’ continuing support to the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) will guarantee the protection and enrichment of forests, wetlands, marine and coastal waters, and other natural resources for the nearly 700 million people in the region. (CO/PIA-4A)

For her part, Dr. Theresa Mundita Lim, ACB Executive Director, said Dr. Hourn’s six priority programs are aligned with the mandates of the ACB. She cited the importance of cross-sectoral collaboration and stronger working relations between the ASEAN Secretariat and the ACB.

The ACB also encouraged youth participation in environmental causes, citing their role in sustaining ASEAN's programs.

"To the youth who are joining us here today, you represent the vast potential of the next generation to lead the way towards a greener future. It is our fervent hope that beyond just tree-planting, the activity today will also foster greater appreciation for the value of nature and how we can all become better stewards of it," said Dr. Lim in her speech.

The ACB also launched the ASEAN Youth Biodiversity Program, which provides an opportunity for youth to get involved in policy-making, collaborate with other youth leaders, establish inclusive projects, and learn from environmental mentors and local community immersions.

Dr. Hourn, the first ASEAN Secretary-General to visit the ACB since its launch in 2005, also emphasized the importance of working together as one in the face of economic, environmental, and geopolitical challenges in the region.

"Biodiversity is everyone's responsibility. The leadership of the center in terms of coordination and ensuring broad participation from different stakeholders, particularly in the work of biodiversity conservation and protection, is crucial. We should not expect that biodiversity will be here forever, and we should not take it for granted," he said. (CH/PIA-Laguna)

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Christopher Hedreyda

Region 4A

Provincial Information Center Manager, PIA Laguna

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