After four years of implementation, the ASEAN-German Cooperation Project Biodiversity-based Products (BBP) as an Economic Source for the Improvement of Livelihoods and Biodiversity Protection celebrated its success in a regional Project Closing Event in the ancient capital of Lao PDR – Luang Prabang – on 4 June 2019.
The BBP Project, funded by the German Government through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, and implemented by the GFA Consulting Group and the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), piloted biodiversity-based product development in three ASEAN Member States (AMS) for the improvement of the livelihood of local communities living around protected areas, while at the same time ensuring that the biodiversity is better protected.
Hosted by the Government of Lao PDR, the Project Closing Event brought together the various stakeholders from Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Viet Nam, who have been a part of the project since its inception phase in 2015. Additionally, guests from other AMS were invited to participate in the discussions based on the stories shared by representatives from government offices, small-scale businesses, and villages from the different pilot sites. The event served as a venue for the officials from the ministries of Environment, Agriculture and Forestry, Trade, Science and Technology; national park management, private sector partners; research and members of the village groups to exchange on further cooperation for the promotion of biodiversity-based products in ASEAN.
The event was opened by Mr. Souksamone Pathammavong, Deputy Director-General of Planning and Cooperation Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Lao PDR.
Ms. Clarissa C. Arida, Director of the Programme Development and Implementation Unit of the ACB, delivered the opening message on behalf of ACB’s Executive Director Dr. Theresa Mundita S. Lim. “Harnessing the potentials and benefits of products from natural resources through sustainable means is key to achieving the global goal of sustainable development, which encompasses three important dimensions: environmental, economic, and social aspects. In the ASEAN, we acknowledge the vital role and potential of biodiversity for socio-economic development. We also recognise the important role of the private sector and local communities in conserving biodiversity and enhancing livelihood opportunities for a better quality of life”, she said.
“In all these pilot initiatives, a functioning ecosystem is a key to exploring sustainable economic opportunities. Adding value to a product and at the same time maintaining the value of nature is crucial to enhancing competitiveness from farm to markets. The ACB joins hands with GIZ and GFA in recognising the milestones of the BBP project at the conclusion of this cooperation project”, Executive Director Lim also stated in her message.
Opening messages were also delivered by Mr. Khamlay Sipaseuth Director Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Office Luang Namtha, Lao PDR, and by Dr. Dicky Simorangkir Programme Director of GIZ. The latter also gave a presentation on the overview of the GIZ programme, including the BBP component.
For the invited participants who were new to the BBP Project, Ms. Bianca Schlegel, Project Manager from GFA Consulting Group, provided a brief introduction to what biodiversity-based products are, and on value chains.
Value chain experiences and lessons learned on developing the black ginger, vine, bamboo, bo khai, giao co lam, honey, and medicinal bath herbs product value chains were presented by Ms. Bopreang Ken, Deputy Director, Department of Biodiversity General Secretarial for the National Council for Sustainable Development, Ministry of Environment, Cambodia; Mr. Oukeo Xayatham, Deputy Head of the Nam Ha National Protected Area, Lao PDR; Mr. Pham Van Nam, Vice Director of Ba Be National Park, Viet Nam; Mr. Tam Thanh Nguyen, Deputy Head Financial Planning, Hoang Lien National Park, Viet Nam; and Mr. Nguyen Van Hieu, Director of Geoinformatics Research Center Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry Viet Nam.
Mr. Christian Elloran, Dabase Specialist from the Biodiversity Information Management Unit of the ACB gave an overview of the BBP Project’s web platform and its contents, and shared its use to the AMS. On the other hand. Mr. Elpidio Peria, Programme Specialist from the Programme Development and Implementation Unit of the ACB provided a presentation entitled, The Mainstreaming of Biodiversity across Sectors through Promotion of Biodiversity Value Chains. Here, he gave the different ways on how mainstreaming of biodiversity-based products into policy can be achieved, and how the ACB support the AMS in these actions.
Other highlights of the Project Closing Event Included an exhibition area where the BBP Project stakeholders were able to showcase and sell their products, and the launch of the BBP Project Video, which featured the stories of villagers from all the pilot sites in the three AMS, as well as messages from officials from the relevant government organisations.