ASEAN celebrates 18 years of cooperation for biodiversity
ASEAN Secretary-General Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, representatives from the embassies of the ASEAN Member States and from its dialogue and development partners, government officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the youth joined the celebration of the 18th founding year of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity.
LAGUNA, Philippines – ASEAN Secretary-General Dr. Kao Kim Hourn graced the 18th Founding Anniversary of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and ceremonial tree planting activity held at its headquarters on 10 September 2023.
Ambassadors of the ASEAN Member States, Philippine government officials, ASEAN dialogue and development partners, University of the Philippines Los Baños officials, and youth representatives took part in the celebration.
Executive Director Dr. Theresa Mundita Lim in her opening remarks expressed her gratitude for the support of its partners, the ASEAN Secretariat, and the ASEAN Member States (AMS) in almost two decades of regional cooperation for biodiversity through the ACB.
”The ACB has come a long way since its establishment 18 years ago. This year’s anniversary theme is “ACB@18: Nurturing Seeds of Hope for A Sustainable ASEAN, the Epicentrum of Growth.” The Centre has made significant strides in terms of facilitating regional cooperation and cross-sectoral collaboration to guard Southeast Asia’s web of life. We affirm our commitment to nurturing seeds of hope through working hand-in-hand with the next generation of biodiversity champions and future leaders of ASEAN”, she said.
His Excellency ASEAN Secretary-General Dr. Kao Kim Hourn shared his priorities and plans for the effective management of the region’s natural wealth and thanked the Government of the Philippines for its unwavering support to the ACB as the sole regional centre hosted by the Philippines.
“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 in the forefront, the Secretary-General mentioned that ASEAN will need to step up its efforts to promote nature-based solutions, best practices, and greening initiatives and underscored the relevance of ACB’s work to meet such objectives through its flagship programmes such as the ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHPs), the ASEAN Green Initiative (AGI), and the ASEAN Youth Biodiversity Programme.
“I want to thank the active role of ACB in promoting ASEAN and our collective actions at the CBD fora. With the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework adopted by the CBD COP-15 in 2022, the role of ACB is increasingly important in facilitating cooperation among the ASEAN Member States to achieve the global and regional objectives on biodiversity, including green economy and blue economy”, he added.
One of the highlights of the event is the awarding of the certificates to the two newly recognised AHPs in Thailand which were approved during the 17th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment in August in Lao PDR. H.E. Tull Traisorat, Thai Ambassador to the Philippines, received the certificates from Dr. Hourn and Dr. Lim for the Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary-Nam Nao National Park and the Phu Kradueng National Park, as the 56th and 57th AHP, respectively.
Planting seeds of hope – native trees
Senior Director Dr. Arvin Diesmos of the Biodiversity Knowledge Management Department, ACB assisted His Excellency ASEAN Secretary-General Dr. Kao Kim Hourn in the ceremonial tree planting activity.
Youth representatives from Los Baños actively joined the tree planting activity, together with the ambassadors from the embassies of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, and Viet Nam. This activity is in line with the AGI, a flagship greening programme of the region that 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 yakal (Shorea astylosa), katmon (Dillenia philippinensis), supa (Sindora supa), red lauan (Shorea negrosensis), hairy leaf apitong (Dipterocarpus scaber), apitong (Dipterocarpus grandiflorus), tailed-leaf apitong (Dipterocarpus caudatus), white lauan (Shorea contorta), and kalingag (Cinnamomum mercadoi). The seedlings were planted around the ACB headquarters located in Mount Makiling Forest Reserve, an AHP, symbolising seeds of hope for a sustainable and greener ASEAN.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) believes that the event is not only a celebration of the ASEAN’s shared commitment to biodiversity conservation but underscores a resolute dedication to achieving our vision of an ASEAN region where biodiversity is effectively preserved, sustainably managed, and utilised to enhance the well-being of the people.
”The journey toward biodiversity conservation remains an ongoing endeavour and we are confident that as the ASEAN Member States strive to navigate the complex areas of conservation, capitalise on the current technological and financial solutions, and advocate for policies that prioritise 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.