Filipino forester-lawyer to lead ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity PDF Print E-mail

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A Filipino forester-lawyer has been chosen by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to lead the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB). Atty. Roberto V. Oliva, bested applicants from other ASEAN Member States to become the next ACB Executive Director, succeeding Executive Director Rodrigo U. Fuentes who passed away in August 2012. This was announced by DENR Undersecretary Demetrio L. Ignacio Jr., member of the ACB Governing Board and Acting ACB Executive Director.  The new Executive Director will take his oath of office on 23 April at a ceremony to be held at the ACB Headquarters in Los Banos, Laguna.


A professional forester and lawyer, Oliva specializes in natural resources law and policy, and has over 30 years of professional experience in the areas of forestry, protected areas, environment and natural resources management.


He graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Forestry and Natural Resources (UPCFNR) in 1978 as a government scholar and was a recipient of the Society of Filipino Foresters Award on Leadership.  He finished his law degree in 1984, and in 1988, completed a Senior Fellowship at the ASEAN Institute of Forest Management in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where he wrote a book entitled “Harmonization of Forest Policies in the ASEAN Region”.


Oliva was a professorial lecturer of the UPCFNR where he taught forestry laws, rules and regulations, forest policies and forest administration subjects.  He was also a lecturer in the Graduate Program of the Development Academy of the Philippines handling the legal framework for biodiversity conservation. He continues to teach forestry subjects on various occasions.


He also worked with international organizations such as the United Nations, Asian Development Bank, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, World Bank, Global Environment Facility, US Agency for International Development and private consulting firms mostly as natural resources policy and legal specialist.  His contributions to projects with these organizations include the preparation of the Philippine Forestry Master Plan; drafting of the Forestry Code of the Philippines, formation of Multi-sectoral Forest Protection Committees; conduct of Protected Areas and Biodiversity Studies; preparation of various administrative issuance in the field of natural resources at the DENR; and participation in the Model Forest Project, Sustainable Coastal Tourism of Asia, and EcoGovernance Project. 


From April 2006 to February 2007, Oliva was an international legal consultant /international forestry legal consultant at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, where he assisted the government of Kenya in the development of subsidiary legislation for forestry. 


Locally, he assisted the DENR and local governments in environmental protection and management including the generation of resources for local governments. In 2011, he was team leader in the formulation of the Environment Code of the City of Santa Rosa, Laguna. He was Assistant Secretary of DENR Executive Director of the Land Administration and Management Project 2 prior to his appointment as ACB Executive Director.


Oliva has received numerous awards in recognition of his achievements, including the Outstanding Citizen of Los Baños, Laguna in 2004; Outstanding Alumnus Award in the field of Forestry Laws and Policies of the UPCFNR and of UPLB, both in 2004; Outstanding Leadership Award as UPCFNR President from 2005 to 2011; and the UPLB Alumni Association Service Award in 2011.


He worked in 2004 with the predecessor organization of ACB, the ASEAN Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (ARCBC), on a study entitled “Legal Personality and Institutionalization of the ARCBC.” He was also the legal counsel of ACB from 2008-2011. 


With Oliva’s leadership, the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity will continue to strengthen biodiversity conservation efforts in the region and develop new directions in the protection of ASEAN’s natural heritage.