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ASEAN releases Invasive Alien Species Action Plan

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ASEAN releases Invasive Alien Species Action Plan

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) releases an action plan for the management of invasive alien species in the region following the document’s official endorsement and acknowledgement during the 17th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Environment (AMME) in Lao PDR and the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Indonesia, respectively.

The said Action Plan now serves as the roadmap for the ASEAN region in dealing with invasive alien species (IAS), which is a pressing biodiversity issue among the ASEAN Member States. The spread of IAS is considered as a major threat to the region’s biodiversity since they can affect native species and have negative effects on the socioeconomic well-being and physical health of the human population. Indonesia, with support from the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), took the lead in the development of the ASEAN Action Plan for Invasive Alien Species Management.

The rapid growth and occurrence of IAS in the region’s natural environment that is already suffering from fragile ecosystems and threats of biodiversity loss, calls for a region-wide approach and multilateral cooperation. The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework has provisions for addressing IAS in its 24 Targets for 2030. Target 6 states the importance of eliminating, minimising, and reducing the rates of introduction and establishment of other known or potential IAS by at least 50% by 2030, and eradicating or controlling IAS, especially in priority sites, such as islands.

Prior to the endorsement of the AMME, the ACB conducted a technical forum among primary stakeholders to review the draft  ASEAN Action Plan for IAS Management in June 2023. The baseline study, called IAS Management in the ASEAN Region, served as the basis for the approved regional action plan. Existing local and national strategies, actions, regulations, and identified implementation gaps on IAS across ASEAN were reviewed and included in the IAS Action Plan.

“It has been proven that the prevention, control, and management of IAS is beyond the national level and necessitates a strengthened cross-sectoral and transboundary intervention and collaboration. With the ASEAN Action Plan already in place, the region is definitely ready to contribute to the achievement of the KM GBF Target 6. We also look forward to making this Action Plan as one of the key programme outputs of the Action Plan of the ASEAN Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity for 2016 to 2025,” said Ms. Clarissa Arida, ACB Programmes Department Director.

The Convention on Biological Diversity reports that nearly 40% of all animal extinctions with known causes that have occurred since the 17th century are largely attributable to IAS. Certain plants, animals, or even pathogens that have been introduced to a new environment whether intentional or unintentional, can be considered IAS. The spread and eventual establishment of IAS outside of their natural habitats can disrupt the ecological balance in invaded areas as they compete with native species for food and nutrients.

Meanwhile, a global Assessment Report on Invasive Alien Species and Their Control was also recently approved in Bonn, Germany, by representatives of the 143 member States of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The report showed that in addition to dramatic changes in biodiversity and ecosystems, the proliferation of IAS has a global economic cost of over USD 423 billion annually as of 2019, with costs at least quadrupling every decade since 1970.