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 megadiverse 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.
1. ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHP) Programme
ASEAN Heritage Parks are defined as “protected areas of high conservation importance, preserving in total a complete spectrum of representative ecosystems of the ASEAN region.” These areas are established to generate greater awareness, pride, appreciation, enjoyment, and conservation of ASEAN’s rich natural heritage, through a regional network of representative protected areas, and to generate greater collaboration among AMS in preserving their shared natural heritage
The 31st AWGNCB noted that there have been 50 declared AHPs as of 2022, composed of 9 marine AHPs, 8 wetland AHPs, and 33 terrestrial AHPs. It was noted that Khao Sok National Park of Thailand was declared as the 50th AHP in 2021.
2. The ASEAN-EU Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in ASEAN (BCAMP)
The projects aims to: (a) improve effectiveness of biodiversity conservation and protected areas at the site level; (b) develop and mobilise knowledge and scientific basis for biodiversity conservation, especially in existing and new AHP sites; (c) mainstream biodiversity conservation and protected area management; (d) and strengthen capacity of the ACB to support the ASEAN regional agenda and AMS in biodiversity conservation and protected management.
The 31st AWGNCB noted that the one-year extension of the BCAMP Project was approved via ad-referendum by the Committee of Permanent Representative to ASEAN (CPR) on 24 January 2021 and by the EU on 15 February 2021, and that the operational implementation phase of the project has been extended until 8 June 2023.
3. Institutional Strengthening of the Biodiversity Sector in ASEAN (Phase II)
The project targets to a) implement priority elements of the new ACB Strategic Plan; b) utilise the AHP Operational Manual to include a regional monitoring and evaluation system for the AHP Programme; c) create the conditions for an instructed contribution of the region to the negotiations for a new international biodiversity agreement; d) mainstream biodiversity into relevant development sectors.
The 31st AWGNCB noted that the Implementation Agreement between the ACB and GIZ was signed in March 2021 for a duration from 1 February 2021–31 December 2021. The ACB and GIZ have signed for two selected activities outlined in the ISB II Project Work Plan.
4. ACB Small Grants Programme (SGP)
The programme aims to strengthen biodiversity protection and management of natural resources in line with the basic needs of the local population in the ASEAN region by strengthening the ACB and its role to promote biodiversity protections. The Programme aims to improve the management of the selected AHPs in Indonesia, Myanmar, and Viet Nam.
5. ASEAN-EU Cooperation
The Enhanced Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (E-READI) has been supporting the development of the Investing in Sustainable Natural Capital in ASEAN over the past 20 months, under its overarching dialogue on the environment and climate change.
The EU-ASEAN Introductory Forum on Natural Capital: Investing in Sustainable Natural Capital in ASEAN was first held on 27–28 November 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand. The Investing in Sustainable Natural Capital in ASEAN Status Report was then launched at the 3rd ASEAN-EU High Level Dialogue on Environment and Climate Change on 16 September 2021. The report assesses the current status of natural capital among the AMS and proposes recommendations for an ASEAN Natural Capital Roadmap. The Report has been published online and can be accessed through the following link: https://asean.org/book/asean-natural-capital-status-report-investing-in-sustainable-natural-capital-in-asean/
6. ASEAN Green Initiatives
The goal of the AGI is to plant 10 million trees over 10 years as a demonstration of regional cooperation to protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystem resources. The Initiative uses a recognition scheme and will provide a certificate of recognition to the stakeholders who have supported the tree-planting activity in the region. AGI was officially launched on 6 August 2021.
7. ASEAN Youth Biodiversity Programme – Young ASEAN Storytellers
The programme aims to a) identify and build capacity of young storytellers in ASEAN; b) communicate stories from AHPs through different mediums to inspire the ASEAN public to get involved in biodiversity conservation; c) enhance the youth's appreciation of ASEAN's biological and cultural diversity; d) add value to the AHP programme; and e) expand the ASEAN CEPA and Media Network for Biodiversity. The 31st AWGNCB noted the proposed activity under the ASEAN Youth Biodiversity Leaders to engage 20 young leaders in the region as communicators of biodiversity conservation.
8. Bio-bridge Initiative on Urban Nature-Green Infrastructure in ASEAN Cities
The project aims to foster cooperation among ASEAN cities to integrate green infrastructure, urban biodiversity in their planning and/or development. The immediate objective is to develop an ASEAN work programme from 2019–2025 on green infrastructure/urban biodiversity linked to the latest global ambition and innovation in this space.
9. ASEAN Workshop on Biodiversity and its Links to Human Health and Nutrition in an Urban Context and Capacity Building on Therapeutic Horticulture as an example of the Links
The initiative seeks to organise a virtual event in 2021 and a two-day capacity building workshop in 2022. The activity will tackle the linkages between human health and biodiversity, particularly the health benefits from nature through therapeutic horticulture. The online seminar was held in September 2021.
10. Seventh ASEAN Heritage Park Conference (AHP 7)
The ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHP) Conference is held every three (3) years with the aim of enhancing knowledge-sharing and fostering camaraderie and networking among AHP managers, AHP Programme Committee members, AWGNCB, as well as selected stakeholders and partners. The (ACB), as the Secretariat of the AHP Programme, leads the organising of the Conference.
The AHP 7 will be held in October 2022 in Jakarta, Indonesia with the theme of Healing Nature and People: The Role of AHPs in Ecosystem Protection and Pandemic Recovery. The Conference aims to assess the role of AHPs in ecosystem protection and pandemic recovery through enhanced knowledge and skills on planning and implementing ecosystem management, restoration strategies and building resilience.
11. Improving Biodiversity Conservation of Wetlands and Migratory Waterbirds in the ASEAN Region - Phase II
The project aims to strengthen regional cooperation for the conservation of wetlands and migratory waterbirds in the ASEAN region through annual ASEAN Flyway Network meetings and regional and national capacity building workshops. The project will span for four year and consist of two phases, each of two years in duration. The First Phase has already been concluded in June 2020. 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.
12. Taxonomic Capacity Building on DNA Barcoding of Common Vascular Plants in the Tropics
The project aims to enhance the taxonomic capacity of the staff and researchers from botanic gardens, academic and research institutions, and government units doing work on species conservation in ASEAN and improve the body of knowledge on the taxonomy of common vascular plants in the tropics, particularly in the ASEAN region.
1. Biodiversity and Climate Change Project (BCCP), the ASEAN-German Cooperation Programme on Biodiversity Conservation (CARE4BioDiv)
The project 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.
2. 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. 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.
3. ASEAN-ROK Flagship Project on Restoration of Degraded Forest Ecosystem in the Southeast Asian Tropical Regions (AKECOP)
The project is a collaboration to address the issue of degradation of land and forest in ASEAN and conserve the 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.
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
Promote cooperation for the protection, restoration and sustainable use of 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;
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;
Enhance policy and capacity development and best practices to conserve, develop and sustainably manage marine, wetlands, peatlands, biodiversity, and land and water resources;
Promote capacity building in a continuous effort to have sustainable management of ecosystems and natural resources;
Promote cooperation on environmental management towards sustainable use of ecosystems and natural resources through environmental education, community engagement and public outreach;
Strengthen global and regional partnerships and support the implementation of relevant international agreements and frameworks;
Promote the role of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity as the centre of excellence in conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity
Support the full implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Targets.
The benefits of collective action towards achieving sustainable development in the ASEAN have been highly recognized. In this regard, the ASEAN Leaders established the ASEAN Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (AWGNCB) as a resolve to intensify cooperation in addressing problems associated with conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. It is part of a broader institutional framework on ASEAN Cooperation on the Environment [http://environment.asean.org] and serves as a technical advisory body to the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity.
The AWGNCB conducts annual meetings to have a consultative platform and further strengthen regional coordination and cooperation in addressing problems associated with natural biodiversity.
The AWGNCB also monitors and develops a common ASEAN stand, where applicable, on international and regional conventions and agreements related to nature conservation and biodiversity.
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 15) WE, the Peoples of Brunei Darussalam, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Republic of Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), Malaysia, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Republic of the Philippines, the Republic of Singapore, the Kingdom of Thailand, and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, the Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), on the occasion of the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
ACKNOWLEDGING the wealth of biodiversity in Southeast Asia, which comprises almost twenty per cent of the world’s biodiversity, even as it holds only three per cent of its land area, and that three countries in the region — Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines — are recognised as megadiverse countries, while Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and VietNam make up a large part of the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot, making Southeast Asia one of the most biologically important regions on the planet.
Credits: Meinmahla Kyun Wildlife Sanctuary (Myanmar) - ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity