MEDIA RELEASE: ASEAN, India see importance of protected areas in addressing sustainable development goals

Most, if not all of the ASEAN Member States (AMS) have taken the necessary actions towards the achievement of Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 on the conservation of protected areas, according to the Second Edition of the ASEAN Biodiversity Outlook (ABO 2) of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB).

Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 states that, “By 2020, at least 17 percent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically-representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscape and seascape. The Aichi Biodiversity Targets is a set of 20 measurable and time-bound global targets under the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.

We still have over 24 months until 2020. There is still time to complete our tasks and do some more. Since 2015, there have been efforts for Contracting Parties of the CBD, globally, towards enhancing efforts for the fulfillment of Target 11, ACB Executive Director Dr. Theresa Mundita S. Lim shared in her opening speech during the Regional Workshop on the Implementation of Aichi Target 11 in the ASEAN Region.

The said workshop was held from 30 to 31 July 2018 in Manila, Philippines to gather updates on the implementation of Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 and to identify ways on how the ASEAN Member States (AMS), non-government organizations (NGOs), and other relevant groups in the ASEAN region can work together to achieve this target. The ACB, with support from the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) of India and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), organized the workshop.

The event was designed to gather information from the AMS on the following: (1) their activities to expand the coverage of their terrestrial and marine protected areas from 2018 to 2020; (2) the connectivity and integration of these protected areas into wider landscapes and seascapes; and (3) the measures to determine and ensure management effectiveness of these areas.

Here in Southeast Asia, we have been doing our part. According to our ABO 2, out of ASEAN’s total land area in sq km of 4, 586,015, terrestrial PA protected is 595,061 sq km or 13 percent; so just 4 percent shy of the 17 percent Aichi target. As to coastal and marine, we have more gaps to address, with only about 2 percent coverage, said Dr. Lim.

The CBD has looked at our collective efforts and as reported in the information document for SBSTTA 22 [Twenty-second meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice] for protected areas, the progress from 2016 up to May 2018 shows that terrestrial protected area global coverage increased from 14.7 percent to 14.8 percent, while marine protected area global coverage increased from 4.12 percent to 7.26 percent, ACB Executive Director Dr. Theresa Mundita S. Lim shared in her opening speech.

Dr. Lim also stressed that intensifying protected area conservation could have the potential to protect a significant part of the worlds biodiversity, and to provide more benefits to the people within and beyond the ASEAN region. Achieving Target 11 Is also achieving multiple benefits, including various Sustainable Development Goals and puts us towards the path of easily fulfilling other Aichi Targets as well, from Targets 5, 6, 7, 9. 10, 12, 13, 14 and 15. In addition to that, Parties to the CBD will also be in a position to fulfill other comments to other multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), not limited to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), but also UNFCCC and Paris Agreement, Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Ramsar Conventions, she added.

Learning from India and other environmental organizations

Non-government organizations and other conservation organizations working on these areas were also invited to provide more details on these key elements of Target 11, aiming also to foster collaboration among these groups with the ASEAN Member States for scaled-up implementation up to 2020 of Target 11 measures. Participating organizations include the following: International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines (WWF); The East Asian-Australian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP); Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS); Deutsche Gesellschaft fr Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH; Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC); Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB); Fauna and Flora International (FFI); Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR); and Rare Philippines.

Dr. B. Meenakumari, Chairperson of the NBA India, shares their country’s progress in achieving global target on protected areas

Dr. B. Meenakumari, Chairperson of the NBA India shared their countrys efforts in achieving Target 11. The sixth National Biodiversity Target (NBT 6) of India on Protected Areas states that: Ecologically representative areas under terrestrial and inland water, and also coastal and marine zones, especially those of particular importance for species, biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved effectively and equitably, based on protected area designation and management and other area-based conservation measures and are integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes, covering over 20 percent of the geographic area of the country, by 2020. India has already surpassed the quantitative element of Aichi target 11 as well as the NBT since it already has declared protected areas that comprise 27 percent of its total geographical area, she shared.

Mr. Sarat Babu Gidda, Senior Programme Management Officer of the SCBD emphasized the importance of working together towards the achievement of conservation targets. We cannot move forward if we pull our carts in different directions. Through this workshop, let us pinpoint the specific actions being implemented by each country geared towards the achievement of Target 11. Let us also identify gaps to see if all of us can come together to address these gaps, he said.

Why increase the number of protected areas?

Protected areas provide a wide range of social, environmental, and economic benefits to people and communities worldwide. Establishment of protected areas is a tried and tested approach, which has been particularly applied by indigenous peoples and local communities for centuries, to conserve nature and associated cultural resources. More than instruments for conserving nature, protected areas are vital for responding to some of the worlds most pressing challenges, including food and water security, human health and well-being, disaster risk reduction, and climate change.

Despite the ecological, cultural, and economic importance of services provided by protected areas, ecosystems and the biodiversity that underpins them are still being degraded and lost at an unprecedented scale. The total economic value of ecosystem services is estimated at tens of trillions of dollars every year, far larger than the global gross domestic product. However, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment estimates that 60 percent of these services are being degraded or used unsustainably with up to 70 percent of global ecosystems regulating services (affecting floods, climate, water quality, and others) and cultural services (including recreational, aesthetic, and spiritual benefits) currently in decline.

There are approximately 200,000 protected areas in the world. However, these protected areas do not adequately cover all ecosystems, habitats, and species important for conservation. While 14.6 percent of the Earths land surface are declared protected areas, only less than one percent of the worlds marine ecosystems are protected. Other biomes, including major freshwater ecosystems and grasslands, are poorly represented since these ecosystem types are usually accounted as part of terrestrial protected areas. This highlights the urgent need to improve coverage and representativeness of protected areas nationally, regionally, and globally.

For more information about biodiversity in the ASEAN region, log on to www.aseanbiodiversity.org.

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Posted in Media Release, News.