Call for HoB to contribute to economic development, diversification

Azlan Othman

Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) Pengiran Haji Kamalrudzaman bin Pengiran Haji Mohd Ishak yesterday said that Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Indonesia should start to reflect on how the Heart of Borneo (HoB) can significantly contribute to economic development and diversification.

Speaking at the launching of the 13th HoB Trilateral Meeting at the Wafa Hotel and Apartment yesterday, he said, “We have already laid the foundations and internalised our common objectives among our stakeholders.

“I believe that we are at the right time to develop business portfolios for our green ecotourism biodiversity conservation, our transboundary projects, and local community networks.”

The two-day meeting is attended by delegates from Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as representatives from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), as a partner stakeholder for the HoB Initiative.

Pengiran Haji Kamalrudzaman added, “It has been 12 years since Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia presented to the world communities of our commitment to conserve and protect the largest contiguous tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia.

“Since 2007, we have affirmed the importance of joint collaborations to ensure the sustainable management of the 220,000 sq km natural ecosystem within the HoB.

Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) Pengiran Haji Kamalrudzaman bin Pengiran Haji Mohd Ishak speaks during the 13th Heart of Borneo Trilateral Meeting. PHOTO: AZLAN OTHMAN

“We were able to capture the attention of the world communities when we signed the HoB Declaration in 2007, to reverse the continuous degradation of our natural heritage. Our strong leadership, hard work, and the assistance provided by our friends from non-government and international organisations have strengthened the foundations of the HoB Initiative and ensure its continuous and sustainable implementation.”

Reaffirming Brunei’s continued support for the HoB Initiative, he said, “We highly appreciate the support of our friends from regional and international organisations, which have been very helpful since day one of the HoB implementation. However, we have to be more resilient in addressing the call for sustainable development where we should be able and independent enough to re-invest in our HoB initiatives.

“I understand that we are all eager to listen to our accomplishments and developments on the field. I am sure that we have done our best in implementing our current initiatives on the HoB Corridor Project, the promotion of sustainable development and conservation through the development of local community networks; the HoB biodiversity conservation; and the development of green tourism and destinations.

“And despite our impressive accomplishments, we are also aware that we still have a lot of work to do, and we still have a long list of challenges to consider and overcome.”

Hosted by the MPRT through its Forestry Department, the 13th HoB Trilateral Meeting is chaired by Deputy Permanent Secretary at the MPRT Haji Abdul Halidi bin Haji Mohd Salleh.

The meeting discusses the latest programmes and activities in support of the HoB Initiative conducted in the member states’ countries, including forest biodiversity conservation and the management of Borneo Island’s natural resources in a sustainable and orderly manner.