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ASEAN marks close to 2 decades of biodiversity cooperation

QUEZON CITY, (PIA) — The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) marked its 18th Founding Anniversary with a celebration held at its headquarters and attended by ASEAN Secretary-General Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, ambassadors of the ASEAN Member States, government officials, representatives from dialogue and development partners, officials from the University of the Philippines Los Baños, and youth representatives.

In her opening remarks, Executive Director Dr. Theresa Mundita Lim expressed her gratitude for the support of partners, the ASEAN Secretariat, and the ASEAN Member States in nearly two decades of regional cooperation for biodiversity through the ACB. 

The anniversary theme, "ACB@18: Nurturing Seeds of Hope for A Sustainable ASEAN, the Epicentrum of Growth," highlighted the significant strides made by the Centre in facilitating regional cooperation and cross-sectoral collaboration to protect Southeast Asia's web of life. 

Dr. Lim affirmed the commitment to nurturing seeds of hope by working hand-in-hand with the next generation of biodiversity champions and future leaders of ASEAN.

ASEAN Secretary-General Dr. Kao Kim Hourn shared his priorities and plans for the effective management of the region's natural wealth. He expressed gratitude to the Government of the Philippines for its unwavering support to the ACB as the sole regional center hosted by the country. 

Dr. Hourn emphasized the importance of the ACB as ASEAN's dedicated regional center of excellence on biodiversity and its role in coordinating biodiversity conservation efforts among the ASEAN Member States.

The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity is ASEAN’s own dedicated regional centre 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," said Dr. Hourn. 

With pandemic recovery and climate change at the forefront, Dr. Hourn highlighted the need for ASEAN to step up efforts in promoting nature-based solutions, best practices, and greening initiatives. 

He underscored the relevance of ACB's flagship programs, such as the ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHPs), the ASEAN Green Initiative (AGI), and the ASEAN Youth Biodiversity Programme, in achieving these objectives.

During the event, certificates were awarded to two newly recognized AHPs in Thailand, the Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary-Nam Nao National Park and the Phu Kradueng National Park, as the 56th and 57th AHPs, respectively.

In line with the AGI, a ceremonial tree planting activity took place, with youth representatives from Los Baños and ambassadors from several ASEAN Member States participating. 

The activity aims to encourage the planting of at least 10 million native trees in 10 ASEAN Member States in 10 years. The seedlings, which are endemic to the ASEAN region, were planted around the ACB headquarters, symbolizing seeds of hope for a sustainable and greener ASEAN.

For its part, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) expressed its belief that the event not only celebrates ASEAN's shared commitment to biodiversity conservation but also underscores a resolute dedication to achieving a vision of an ASEAN region where biodiversity is effectively preserved, sustainably managed, and utilized to enhance the well-being of the people.

The journey toward biodiversity conservation remains an ongoing endeavor and we are confident that as the ASEAN Member States strive to navigate the complex areas of conservation, capitalize on the current technological and financial solutions, and advocate for policies that prioritize the protection of our natural heritage, we will be guided by the able leadership and workforce of the ACB. Rest assured that the Centre can bank on the DENR’s unwavering support and dedication to the mission,” said Jhorace Tupas, Senior Ecosystems Management Specialist, Coastal and Marine Division, DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau.

Meanwhile, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the ASEAN H.E. Hjayceelyn Quintana, who also represented the Department of Foreign Affairs at the ACB anniversary, said in her speech, “The Philippines proudly hosts the ACB – the centre of excellence for biodiversity–and we remain dedicated to supporting the efforts of ACB and fellow ASEAN Member States in preserving our natural heritage.”

She also conveyed that the Philippines stands ready to work hand in hand with its fellow AMS to address pressing global issues including biodiversity. (PIA-NCR)

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Alice Sicat

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Assistant Regional Director of PIA-NCR

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