| Mahmud Yussof |
“CONSERVING the Heart of Borneo through Sustainable Development” was the theme of the forum for the Heart of Borneo (HoB) side event of the 2014 IUCN World Park Congress (WPC), which was held earlier this week in Sydney, Australia. The forum was initiated by WWF International.
Prior to the forum, the participants were given an insight of the HoB Initiative of which Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia have a common (forest) conservation vision for the benefit of the people of Borneo.
The sub-regional initiative has attracted the attention of the global community, thus making the HoB a global icon for forest and biodiversity conservation.
As protected areas (PAs) were the focus of the WPC, the forum was particularly important. While the HoB might represent the future for protected areas – integrated parts of multiple use, green landscapes – management of these core natural capital assets is key.
Among other things, the forum covered the basics on PAs in the HoB (ie area covered and management status) and how to improve connectivity between PAs.
The HoB Brunei Context was also deliberated in the forum.
Guided by some of the recommendations from a study commissioned by Brunei evaluating the progress of the HoB Initiative implementation, the panel outlined some major achievements in the Brunei HoB Initiative as well as challenges that still remained.
According to the panel, the enabling conditions included the national recognition on the Project Implementation Framework (PIF) as the national roadmap of the Brunei HoB and the establishment of the Brunei HoB Centre.
Furthermore, the HoB Initiative is supported by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, the Royal Patron of the National Council of HoB in the Sultanate.
However, the panel pointed out that more high-level meetings had to be conducted so as to “manoeuvre” HoB Trilateral Meetings, which are attended by senior officials from HoB member countries. Furthermore, the effectiveness of the coordinating mechanism for the trilateral governance should also be studied.
There is also a need to establish a clear vision for the future of the HoB, as a trilateral effort should be reflected by having more trilateral projects and the divisions of responsibility between governments and partners, added the panel.
*The writer is the CEO of HoB Centre, Head of BioRIC, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Darussalam