Philippines, 01 October 2013 – As human pressure on the planet’s resources intensifies, experts are increasingly looking at an effective protected area system as one of the best hopes to conserve key ecosystems, habitats, and species.
The ASEAN Member States, home to more than 1,300 nationally designated protected areas, are participating in international efforts to improve the management of protected areas, particularly the globally significant biodiversity areas such as the ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHPs).
About 300 key biodiversity stakeholders
from the ASEAN region gathered today at the opening ceremony of the 4th ASEAN Heritage Parks Conference in Tagaytay City, Philippines to develop strategies that will improve the management of AHP sites and other protected areas.
The theme of the four-day conference is Integrating Global Challenges for Sustainable Development and Effective Management of ASEAN Heritage Parks. The event is spearheaded by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) with support from the GIZ Biodiversity and Climate Change Project (BCCP) and the Government of the Philippines through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Tourism (DOT).
The conference comes at a time when countries are discussing issues on biodiversity, in the context of the outcomes of the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to achieve the Aichi Targets and contribute to the successful implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2020 and enhance benefits for people.
In his keynote message, Philippine Environment Secretary Ramon J.P Paje lauded the management boards and staff of the 33 ASEAN Heritage Parks as well as the local governments and surrounding communities for their commitment to conserve the parks’ rich biodiversity. “I encourage you to further strengthen your already significant efforts. Your efforts today will surely benefit the generations to come. After all, they are the inheritors of these places that we all strive to protect,” he said.
“In the next four days, we will update ASEAN park managers on recent knowledge and tools in addressing biodiversity loss and ecosystems degradation and the preservation of the region’s natural heritage. We will also identify further cooperation opportunities towards capacity building for effective management of AHPs and other critical ecosystems and biodiversity to contribute to poverty reduction,” Atty. Roberto V. Oliva, Executive Director of the ACB, said.
The biodiversity chief urged the ASEAN Member States to continue working together toward sustainably managing the ASEAN Heritage Parks – protected areas of high conservation importance, preserving in total a complete spectrum of representative ecosystems of the ASEAN region. “Let’s work together toward preserving our shared natural heritage,” he said.
“The 4th AHP Conference is part of the ASEAN’s effort, through the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, to unify actions aimed at abating environmental degradation by implementing measures on protected area management. As we know, establishing protected areas remains one of the key cornerstones of biodiversity conservation,” Atty. Oliva said.
H.E. Alicia Dela Rosa Bala, Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN reaffirmed ASEAN’s commitment to fully implement various measures to address sustainable management of natural resources and biodiversity and climate change as outlined in the strategy and actions of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint 2009 – 2015. She also acknowledged the important role that multilateral coordination, collaboration, and communication among ASEAN Member States and various stakeholders play in ensuring that ASEAN’s cities are sustainably managed toward enhancing social, economic and environmental wellbeing.
Mr. Robert Kressirer, Country Director of the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) for the Philippines and the South Pacific, welcomed the AHP conference as an opportunity to bring together biodiversity experts from all over the ASEAN region. “The global threats on biodiversity could best be addressed by countries through combined efforts using the entire knowledge from local stakeholders up to the national institutional levels. GIZ with their regional structure in other ASEAN member states implements bilateral and regional (including ASEAN) projects related to biodiversity management, ecosystem services and climate change in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Connecting these efforts to the goals of the global Convention for Biological Diversity, is one of the main aims of the global GIZ portfolio related to biodiversity conservation.”
Mr. Celso de Castro, Vice Mayor of Tagaytay City, also encouraged delegates and stakeholders to continuously protect ASEAN’s heritage and wealth of biodiversity.
The plenary will feature key conference papers on challenges in implementing the CBD Strategic Plan on Biodiversity; ecotourism and biodiversity; economic valuation of ecosystems and biodiversity; climate change and biodiversity; and the role of indigenous and local communities in protected areas governance.
The conference will also have parallel sessions to discuss key issues in protecting the ASEAN Heritage Parks: Management Effectiveness of Terrestrial Protected Areas; Effectively Managing Aquatic Ecosystems; Biodiversity and Climate Change; Integrating Biodiversity Values; Ecotourism, Business and Biodiversity; and Indigenous and Local Communities in Protected Areas. The discussion would hopefully usher new and innovative ideas and strengthen existing regional and national mechanisms to enhance ecosystems services of ASEAN Heritage Parks which are essential for human well-being and contributes to local livelihoods and economic development.
For more information on 4th AHP Conference and the AHP Programme, log on to www.aseanbiodiversity.org.
|Mr. Rolando A. Inciong
Director, Communication and Public Affairs
ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity
|Ms. Maria Sabrina R. Cruz
OIC-Director, Public Affairs Office
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
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