ASEAN Cooperation on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity

The ASEAN region is blessed with incredibly rich biodiversity. While it occupies only 3% of the Earths land, it covers four biodiversity hotspots and contains three of the worlds 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.

Sources: ASEAN Biodiversity Outlook 2 and the Fifth ASEAN State of the Environment Report

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

  1. Strengthen regional cooperation to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems resources, combat desertification, halt biodiversity loss, and halt and reverse land degradation.
  2. Promote cooperation for the protection, restoration and sustainable use of the coastal and marine environment, respond and deal with the risk of pollution and threats to marine ecosystem and coastal environment, in particular in respect of ecologically sensitive areas.
  3. 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.
  4. Enhance policy and capacity development and best practices to conserve, develop and sustainably manage marine, wetlands, peatlands, biodiversity, and land and water resources.
  5. Promote capacity building in a continuous effort to have sustainable management of ecosystems and natural resources.
  6. Promote cooperation on environmental management towards sustainable use of ecosystems and natural resources through environmental education, community engagement and public outreach.
  7. Strengthen global and regional partnerships and support the implementation of relevant international agreements and frameworks.
  8. Promote the role of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity as the centre of excellence in conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
  9. 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 regions rich biological diversity is protected, conserved and sustainably managed. The AWGNCB shall also monitor and develop a common ASEAN stand where applicable to 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.

ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) was established in 2005 to assist the AMS to protect and conserve its valuable and unique biodiversity resources.

The ACB supports ASEAN governments in the following areas that are of global and regional importance: agriculture and food security; access to, and fair and equitable sharing of benefits from biological and genetic resources; climate change and biodiversity conservation; ecotourism and biodiversity conservation; payment for ecosystems services scheme and valuation of biodiversity; wildlife enforcement; managing invasive alien species; peatland management and biodiversity; Global Taxonomic Initiative; support to the Programme of Work on Protected Areas; and managing biodiversity information and knowledge. These areas have been identified in the various global biodiversity-related agreements such as the CBD, CITES, Ramsar Convention and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

ACBs core strategic goals are expected to benefit the AMS as follows:

  • serving as an effective coordinating body to facilitate discussion and resolution of cross-country biodiversity conservation issues
  • providing a framework and mechanism for sharing information, experiences, best practices and lessons learned for efficient access to AMS
  • implementing a pro-active approach in monitoring and assessing biodiversity conservation status as a strategic approach towards identifying critical issues and future trends
  • delivering/facilitating the conduct of capacity-building services and technology transfer through engaging relevant and appropriate expertise
  • enhancing common understanding of biodiversity conservation issues strengthening ASEAN regional common understanding in negotiations and in compliance with relevant multilateral environmental agreements
  • promoting regional public awareness to develop champions and enhance support at different stakeholder levels on biodiversity concerns
  • undertaking innovative resource generation and mobilisation measures to pursue impact activities that will enhance biodiversity conservation in the region

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 ASEANs 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 ASEAN Heritage Parks Program.

With the recent endorsement of the nomination of Kepulauan Seribu and Wakatobi Natural Parks from Indonesia by the 14th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Environment (AMME) on 12 September 2017 in Brunei Darussalam there are currently 40 ASEAN Heritage Parks.

The ASEAN Heritage Parks are distributed as follows: Brunei Darussalam - 1; Cambodia - 2; Indonesia - 6; Lao PDR - 1; Malaysia - 3; Myanmar - 7; Philippines - 8; Singapore - 2; Thailand - 4; and Viet Nam - 6.

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
10Nam Ha National Biodiversity Conservation AreaLao PDR
11Kinabalu National ParkMalaysia
12Gunung Mulu National ParkMalaysia
13Taman Negara National ParkMalaysia
14Alaungdaw Katthapa National ParkMyanmar
15Indawgyi Lake Wildlife SanctuaryMyanmar
16Inle Lake Wildlife SanctuaryMyanmar
17Hkakaborazi National ParkMyanmar
18Lampi Marine National ParkMyanmar
19Nat Ma Taung National Park in MyanmarMyanmar
20Meinmahla Kyun Wildlife SanctuaryMyanmar
21Mt. Apo National ParkPhilippines
22Mts. Iglit-Baco National ParkPhilippines
23Mt. Kitanglad Range National ParkPhilippines
24Mt. Malindang Range Natural ParkPhilippines
25Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve Philippines
26Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (MHRWS) Philippines
27Mts. Timpoong Hibok-Hibok Natural MonumentPhilippines
28Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP)Philippines
29Sungei Buloh Wetland ReserveSingapore
30Bukit Timah Nature ReserveSingapore
31Ao Phangnga-Mu Koh Surin-Mu Koh Similan Marine National ParksThailand
32Kaengkrachan Forest ComplexThailand
33Kaho Yai National ParkThailand
34Tarutao National ParkThailand
35Kon Kan Kinh National ParkViet Nam
36Chu Mom Ray National ParkViet Nam
37Ba Be National ParkViet Nam
38Hoang Lien Sa Pa National ParkViet Nam
39U Minh Thuong National Park Viet Nam
40Bai Tu Long National ParkViet Nam

As part of the AHP Programme, ASEAN Heritage Parks 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 5th ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHP) Conference held on 24-27 October 2016 in Nay Pyi Yaw, Myanmar. With the theme Innovations for Enhanced Governance of ASEAN Heritage Parks, the conference provided an opportunity to assess the progress of ASEAN's efforts in effectively managing AHPs and in addressing biodiversity issues for sustainable development. It also reviewed the uptake of recommendations made during the previous conference, highlighted the 2016-2020 Regional Action Plan for AHPs, and recommended priority actions for enhanced management of AHPs.

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 the 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 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 Financing Agreement between ASEAN and EU was signed on 27 December 2016. The inception is planned to start in 2018.

Inception Meeting for the BCAMP, 28-29 November 2017, Los Banos and Manila, the Philippines

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:

  1. FC Module: FC-Contribution for a Small Grants Programme (SGP) by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, Phase I financed through KfW (2014-2019);
  2. FC Module: FC-Contribution for a Small Grants Programme (SGP) by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, Phase II financed through KfW (2017-2021);
  3. 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
  4. TC Module: Institutional Strengthening of the Biodiversity Sector in ASEAN (ISB) implemented by GIZ (2015-2019).

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 is planned to be 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 is proposed to be implemented within the period of 2018-2019.

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 VIII of the project had been completed from 2000 to 2016. Phase IX, which is implemented in the period of 2017-2018, aims to evaluate the last 16 years of research activities of AKECOP and to promote major achievement of AKECOP. Moreover, the AKECOP in Phase IX will produce the state-of-the-art report on restoration of degraded ecosystem, biodiversity conservation and enhancement of local livelihood conducted in the AMS in collaboration with ROK.

Declaration/Joint Statements

The Joint Statement by the ASEAN Environment Ministers to the Thirteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 13) was adopted at the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits on 16 September 2016 in Vientiane, Lao PDR, and was subsequently submitted to the CBD COP 13 which was convened on 4-17 December 2016 in Cancun, Mexico. 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.