THE Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar attended the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Stakeholder Dialogue which was initiated and organised by the Australian Ministry of Environment, in Sydney on November 11.
The Australian Minister of Environment, Greg Hunt was present at the event to deliver a welcoming and keynote address.
The stakeholder dialogue was attended by ministers and senior government officials as well as corporate leaders and senior officials from non-government organisations and corporate bodies to discuss practical actions to reduce forest loss while recognising the legitimate development aspirations of rainforest nations and communities.
At the opening of the dialogue session, Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya was given the honour to deliver a keynote address, soon after Greg Hunt delivered his welcoming and keynote address.
In his keynote address, the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources highlighted the significance of managing and conserving the tropical rainforests, which despite their importance, continue to deplete at an alarming rate, estimated at around 13 million hectares per year.
While the rate of rainforest destruction was moving fast, it is worrying that the capacity and capability to conduct study, research and understand the full potential and benefits of the richness of the forests biodiversity remained quite slow, according to the minister.
In this regard, the minister highlighted there was a need for government, non-government organisations, corporate bodies and other relevant stakeholders, to strengthen cooperation and collaboration in human resource development, capacity building, research and development, technology transfer, and exchange of knowledge and scientific information.
In doing so, this would ensure that the full potential of what the rich and diverse rainforest resources could offer to mankind are fully explored.
As a way forward, the minister offered interested foreign research institutions and organisations to work and collaborate with local research institutions in the country to conduct research and development (R&D) activities in the country’s pristine rainforests; assist Brunei in its efforts to enhance local human resource capacities and capabilities through foreign expert participation in local research works, participation of local researchers in research activities conducted abroad, internship programmes and others; support financially and technically R&D activities implemented in the country, including initiatives to conserve and protect the rainforest; and be friends and partners to support the country’s efforts in managing, conserving and protecting the rainforests.
The minister also touched on the Brunei Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative, particularly on the importance and roles of the initiative in the management and conservation of the country’s forest resources, as well as addressing sectoral and overlapping interests and downstream influences in view of the current national economic drive and development.
According to him, the implementation of Brunei HoB research activities has attracted not only the participation and involvement of local, but also foreign experts and scientists.
This among others includes the participation of a renowned biologist and scientist from the United Kingdom, the 5th Earl of Cranbrook, Lord Gathorne-Gathorne Hardy – a chartered biologist and naturalist who has had over 30 years of experience in conservation work not only in the UK, but also in Malaysia and Borneo, and recently in Brunei, taking part in the implementation of a three-year faunal biodiversity survey of the 2nd phase of the Sungai Ingei Faunal Biodiversity Survey Project, which was launched earlier in February this year.
The stakeholder dialogue discussions were divided into plenary and parallel sessions, and covered a wide range of topics, which include: forest monitoring; combating illegal logging; protecting biodiversity; involvement of indigenous groups and communities in forest management; elimination of deforestation from global supply chains; and landscapes approaches to maximise social, economic and environmental outcomes.