ASEAN Cooperation on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity

The ASEAN region is blessed with incredibly rich biodiversity. While it occupies only 3% of the Earth’s land, it covers four biodiversity hotspots and contains three of the world’s 17 mega-diverse nations (Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines). The region has the highest proportion of endemic bird and mammal species (9% and 11%) and the second highest proportion of endemic vascular plant species (25%) compared to the tropical regions of Meso-America, South America, and sub-Saharan Africa. More than two thousand species have been discovered in the ASEAN region over the past two decades. In terms of marine biodiversity, the region hosts the world’s center for marine biodiversity, otherwise known as the Coral Triangle, and has “the most extensive and diverse coral reefs in the world”, which accounts for more than 28% (almost 70,000 km2) of the global total.

In consideration of the importance of ensuring that the rich biological diversity is conserved and sustainably managed toward enhancing social, economic and environmental well-being, the ASEAN Leaders have incarnated their commitments and support in the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint 2025. As guided by the ASCC Blueprint 2025, the key result areas and corresponding strategic measures in responding to the conservation and sustainable management of biodiversity and natural resources issues are as follows:

Strategic Measures

i.Strengthen regional cooperation to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecoystems resources, combat desertification, halt biodiversity loss, and halt and reserve land degradation
iii.Promote cooperation for the protection, restoration and sustainableuse of coastal and marine environment, respond and deal withthe risk of pollution and threats to marine ecosystem and coastal environment, in particular in respect of ecologically sensitive areas;
iv.Adopt good management practices and strengthen policies to address the impact of development projects on coastal and international waters and transboundary environmental issues, including pollution, illegal movement and disposal of hazardous substances and waste, and in doing so, utilise existing regional and international institutions and agreements;
v.Enhance policy and capacity development and best practices to conserve, develop and sustainably manage marine, wetlands, peatlands, biodiversity, and land and water resources;
vi.Promote capacity building in a continuous effort to have sustainable management of ecosystems and natural resources;
vii.Promote cooperation on environmental management towards sustainable use of ecosystems and natural resources through environmental education, community engagement and public outreach;
viii.Strengthen global and regional partnerships and support the implementation of relevant international agreements and frameworks;
ix.Promote the role of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity as the centre of excellence in conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity
x.Support the full implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Targets.

Recognising the benefits of collective action towards achieving sustainable development as well as promoting clean and green environment, the ASEAN Leaders resolved to intensify cooperation in addressing problems associated with conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity through the establishment of the ASEAN Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (AWGNCB). The AWGNCB is envisaged to be a consultative platform to further strengthen regional coordination and cooperation in addressing problems associated natural biodiversity and to undertake concrete actions in ensuring that the region’s rich biological diversity is protected, conserved and sustainably managed. The AWGNCB shall also monitor and develop a common ASEAN stand where applicable on international and regional conventions and agreements related to nature conservation and biodiversity.

The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) was established in 2005 as a dedicated regional centre of excellence on biodiversity to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable use through policy support, networking, training, research, and database management.

Established in 2005 by the ASEAN Member States, ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity or ACB is ASEAN’s response to the challenge of biodiversity loss in the region. Pursuant to Article II of its Establishment Agreement, ACB shall facilitate cooperation and coordination among AMS and with relevant national government, regional and international organisations, on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and the fair and equitable biodiversity in the ASEAN region.

ACB is overseen by a Governing Board. The AWGNCB provides technical support to the Governing Board in reviewing and monitoring the implementation of the Work Programme of ACB. ACB is located in the University of the Philippines Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines.

ACB initiates and implements programmes/projects along biodiversity conservation to include the ASEAN Heritage Parks and Protected Area Management, Species Conservation, Invasive Alien Species, Ecosystems Restoration, and Access sectors, such as agriculture, tourism, health, and climate change.

ACB serves as the Secretariat of the ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHP) Programme, an ASEAN Programme promotes a regional network of national protected areas of high conservation importance, preserving a complete spectrum of representative ecosystem to generate greater awareness, pride, appreciation, enjoyment, and conservation of ASEAN’s rich natural heritage. As of 2019, there are 49 ASEAN Heritage Parks from the 10 ASEAN Member States.

ASEAN Member States (AMS) share many species with their neighbours and as a whole are rather biologically distinct from the rest of the world. Five AMS are linked by the Mekong River while three AMS share the great island of Borneo, and therefore the coordinated conservation and sustainable use of this richness is crucial. In recognition thereof, ASEAN signed the ASEAN Declaration on Heritage Parks and Reserves in 1984, and agreed to designate 11 protected areas to be inscribed as the ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHP). The AHP Programme serves as a regional network of national protected areas of high conservation importance preserving a complete spectrum of representative ecosystem to generate greater awareness, pride, appreciation, enjoyment, and conservation of ASEAN’s rich natural heritage. The declaration was revitalised in 2003 with ASEAN Declaration on Heritage Parks. The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) serves as the Secretariat of the AHP Program.

As of 2019, there are currently 49 AHPs, with the following distribution: Brunei Darussalam – 1; Cambodia – 2; Indonesia – 7; Lao PDR – 1; Malaysia – 3; Myanmar – 8; Philippines – 9; Singapore – 2; Thailand – 6; and Viet Nam – 10.

NOASEAN Heritage ParksCountry
1Tasek Merimbun National ParkBrunei Darussalam
2Preah Monivong National ParkCambodia
3Virachey National ParkCambodia
4Gunung Leuser National ParkIndonesia
5Kerinci Seblat National ParkIndonesia
6Lorentz National ParkIndonesia
7Way Kambas National ParkIndonesia
8Wakatobi National ParkIndonesia
9Kepulauan Seribu National ParkIndonesia
10Bantimurung Bulusaraung National ParkIndonesia
11Nam Ha National Biodiversity Conservation AreaLao PDR
12Kinabalu National ParkMalaysia
13Gunung Mulu National ParkMalaysia
14Taman Negara National ParkMalaysia
15Alaungdaw Katthapa National ParkMyanmar
16Indawgyi Lake Wildlife SanctuaryMyanmar
17Inle Lake Wildlife SanctuaryMyanmar
18Hkakaborazi National ParkMyanmar
19Lampi Marine National ParkMyanmar
20Nat Ma Taung National Park in MyanmarMyanmar
21Meinmahla Kyun Wildlife SanctuaryMyanmar
22Htamanthi Wildlife SanctuaryMyanmar
23Mt. Apo National ParkPhilippines
24Mts. Iglit-Baco National ParkPhilippines
25Mt. Kitanglad Range National ParkPhilippines
26Mt. Malindang Range Natural ParkPhilippines
27Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve Philippines
28Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (MHRWS) Philippines
29Mts. Timpoong Hibok-Hibok Natural MonumentPhilippines
30Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP)Philippines
31Agusan Marsh Wildlife SanctuaryPhilippines
32Sungei Buloh Wetland ReserveSingapore
33Bukit Timah Nature ReserveSingapore
34Ao Phangnga-Mu Koh Surin-Mu Koh Similan Marine National ParksThailand
35Kaeng Krachan Forest ComplexThailand
36Khao Yai National ParkThailand
37Tarutao National ParkThailand
38Hat Chao Mai National Park and Mu Ko Libong Non-hunting AreaThailand
39Mu Ko Ang Thong Marine National ParkThailand
40Kon Kan Kinh National ParkViet Nam
41Chu Mom Ray National ParkViet Nam
42Ba Be National ParkViet Nam
43Hoang Lien Sa Pa National ParkViet Nam
44U Minh Thuong National Park Viet Nam
45Bai Tu Long National ParkViet Nam
46Bidoup Nui-Ba National ParkViet Nam
47Vu Quang National ParkViet Nam
48Lo Go-Xa Mat National ParkViet Nam
49Ngoc Linh Nature ReserveViet Nam

As part of the AHP Programme, the AHP Conference is held regularly to bring together park managers, government officials, and other stakeholders to exchange information and views on parks management best practices. The latest conference was the 6th ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHP) Conference held on 21-24 October 2019 in Pakse, Lao PDR. With the theme “Sustainability and Innovation for Parks and People—Celebrating 35 years of ASEAN Heritage”, the 6th AHP Conference provided an opportunity to assess the progress of ASEAN’s efforts in effectively managing AHPs and in addressing biodiversity issues for sustainable development. The Conference consisted of parallel sessions which focused on the following: accelerating progress on Aichi Biodiversity Target 11; species and wildlife conservation; innovative financing; business and biodiversity; women, youth, and indigenous peoples and local communities; sustainable livelihood and biodiversity-based products; and ecosystem-based solutions.

Led by the ACB, the first edition of the ASEAN Biodiversity Outlook (ABO 1) was released in 2010 and aimed to charter the progress of the ASEAN Member States in their efforts to significantly reduce biodiversity loss from 2002 to 2010. In continuation of ABO 1, the second edition of such a report was launched as one of the ASEAN 50th Commemorative Outputs in 2017. The ABO 2 showcases the progress and lessons learned on biodiversity conservation in the ASEAN region for the period 2010–2015. It presents a midterm update on how ASEAN Member States have fared in conserving biodiversity in the context of implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. The third edition of the ABO (ABO3) is currently being developed.

The ASEAN-EU Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in ASEAN (BCAMP) aims to: (i) enhance conservation of biodiversity and effective management of protected areas in ASEAN; (ii) improve knowledge and scientific basis for biodiversity conservation, especially in in existing and new AHPs; (iii) mainstream biodiversity conservation in development plans and educational systems; and (iv) strengthen the capacity of ACB to support ASEAN regional agenda on biodiversity. The ASEAN-EU BCAMP comprises three components, namelyL Component 1: (Site Level), Component 2 (National Level), and Component 3 (Regional Level).

As a follow-up to the completed Biodiversity and Climate Change Project (BCCP), the ASEAN-German Cooperation Programme on Biodiversity Conservation (CARE4BioDiv) has been developed by the Federal Government of Germany and the ACB. The overall objective of the program is the protection of biological diversity and the sustainable management of natural ecosystems in the ASEAN region to contribute to the improvement of livelihoods of the local population. The Development Cooperation Programme is an umbrella program composed of the following financial cooperation (FC) and technical cooperation (TC) modules:

(i)FC Module: FC-Contribution for a Small Grants Programme (SGP) by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, Phase I financed through KfW (2014-2019). SGP I will be extended until 2022;
(ii)FC Module: FC-Contribution for a Small Grants Programme (SGP) by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, Phase II financed through KfW (2017-2021)
(iii)TC Module: Biodiversity-based products (BBP) as an Economic Source for the Improvement of Livelihoods and Biodiversity Protection implemented by GIZ/GFA (2015-2019); and
(iv)TC Module: Institutional Strengthening of the Biodiversity Sector in ASEAN (ISB) implemented by GIZ (2015-2019). The ASEAN-GIZ ISB Project Completion Meeting and Partners?? Forum was held on 19 February 2019 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The project officially ended on 28 February 2019.

ACB-NBA Cooperation: Capacity building towards Implementing the Nagoya Protocol on ABS, the City Biodiversity Index and the Strategic Plan on Biodiversity aims to complement priorities, expertise, and interests on biodiversity and development between NBA and ACB through implementation of collaborative activities on the three thematic concerns. Among outputs expected from the collaboration are the provision of support to AMS-India on the implementation of Nagoya Protocol on ABS, increase in awareness of city officials on the importance and value of urban biodiversity conservation, and enhanced capacity on achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. As part of the project, the “Capacity Building to Support the Implementation of the CBD Strategic Plan and Achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets” was implemented in 2018.

Improving Biodiversity Conservation of Wetlands and Migratory Waterbirds in the ASEAN Region will span for four year and consist of two phases, each of two years in duration. In particular, the project aims to achieve the following outputs: (i) a well-functioning ASEAN Network on Wetlands and Migratory Waterbirds Conservation; (ii) improved knowledge of wetlands and migratory waterbirds in the ASEAN Member States, (iii) enhanced capacity of site-managers and other stakeholders in managing wetlands and migratory waterbirds; and (iv) enhanced communication, education and public awareness of the values of migratory waterbirds and their habitats. The First Phase currently being implemented, and is expected to be concluded in June 2020.

ASEAN-EU Cooperation: Natural Capital – integrate natural capital and biodiversity into business practices is an ongoing project funded by the EU under the Enhanced Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (E-READI) aim to facilitate a dialogue between the EU and key stakeholders in ASEAN, to boost the integration of natural capital into planning and decision-making processes in the private and public sectors of AMS in an aligned, harmonised, and efficient way through a common understanding of concepts and collaboration. As part of the initiative, the EU-ASEAN Regional Introductory Forum and Workshop on Natural Capital: Enhancing Natural Capital Initiatives in ASEAN was held on 27–28 November 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand.

ASEAN-ROK Flagship Project on Restoration of Degraded Forest Ecosystem in the Southeast Asian Tropical Regions (AKECOP) is an on-going collaboration to address the issue of degradation of land and forest in ASEAN and conserve ecosystem through research and capacity building between AMS and ROK. The Project is being implemented by the ASEAN-Korea Environmental Cooperation Unit (AKECU) at the National Instrumentation Center for Environmental Management (NICEM), College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Seoul National University. Phases I to IX of the project were implemented from 2000 to 2018.

The Joint Statement by the ASEAN Environment Ministers to the Fourteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 14) was adopted in Singapore at the 33rd ASEAN Summit on 13 November 2018, and was subsequently submitted to the CBD COP 14 convened on 17-29 November 2018 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Through the Joint Statement, the ASEAN Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to implement the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets; and to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.