Minister of Development Dato Seri Setia Ir Awang Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gafar
On June 5, 2020, Brunei Darussalam joined over 100 countries to commemorate World Environment Day, a global platform aimed at fostering and enhancing environmental awareness as well as encouraging the support and participation of each and every community to play its role in preserving the environment.
The year 2020 marks the ‘Super Year’ for biodiversity. The theme ‘Time for Nature’ was chosen, focussing on the importance of biodiversity in providing the essential infrastructure to support life and development on earth and the need to care and protect it.
Human life is heavily dependent on the natural services of biodiversity, which are made up of many different types and ecosystems. As biodiversity encompasses the wide variety of species and ecosystems, it inherently provides many ecosystem services human lives depend on.
Biodiversity is the cornerstone that provide supporting, regulating, provisioning and cultural services that we rely on for survival and livelihood. The interplay and complex relationships of biodiversity allow purification of our air and water, climate moderation and disease control.
Our food, medicines and heritage values are derived from nature. Alhamdulillah, Brunei Darussalam is blessed with abundance of intact natural habitats allowing various wildlife to thrive and evolve both on land and in the aquatic environments.
We are also proud to harbour numerous species that are endemic to Brunei and Borneo and have contributed to new species discoveries. As we develop sustainable Brunei Darussalam, we recognise that we need to have a stable healthy biosphere that support healthy human society to drive economic progress.
However, various challenges have to be faced in efforts to protect and manage biodiversity at the national, regional and international levels. Unsustainable development, illegal trafficking and poaching, unsustainable deforestation, un-controlled fishing or overfishing, habitat loss, pollution and climate change are among the contributing factors to the biodiversity extinction and threat. These issues need to be solved holistically and require the cooperation of many parties through the Whole of Nation approach.
Hence, among the efforts of the Ministry of Development (MoD) in its pursuit to realise Brunei Vision 2035 in biodiversity protection and preservation is to regulate development through the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) requirement for projects identified to have an impact on the environment, listed as Prescribed Activities. This requirement has already been enforced under the Environmental Protection and Management Order 2016.
Among the measures undertaken is to avoid areas of biodiversity importance, exploring nature-based solutions, outline and implement mitigation measures to avoid and minimise negative environmental impacts such as enforcing the need for relocation and replanting of flora and fauna, rehabilitation of affected areas, and so on.
As such, the MoD will introduce a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative to raise awareness for developers and the public where they are encouraged to plant one to four trees per tree for all development activities.
The replanting of these trees will ensure that carbon sequestration is maintained while still allowing for sustainable development.
For this year’s World Environment Day celebration, the MoD through the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation will continue its ‘Take Your Action, Make A Difference’ campaign which began in April 2020 by inviting and encouraging people to act and play their roles in preserving the beauty of the environment that is gifted to us.
As the country is still under the threat of the COVID-19 outbreak, several activities have been organised using the online platform, as well as a ‘virtual run’, which can be participated privately and in accordance with the guidelines set by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and other relevant authorities.
During the month of June, the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation will be working with the Forestry Department and Brunei Biodiversity and Natural History Society (BruWILD), a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) to disseminate information and raise awareness on biodiversity in the country via social media and will be partnering with Radio Television Brunei to hold quizzes on selected radio stations.
More information on the activities will be shared on the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation’s social media (@jastre.bn).
On this occasion, I would like to express my deepest appreciation and thanks to all those who have either directly or indirectly contributed to the preservation of the environment by both the government, the private sector and NGOs.
I hope that the efforts will continue and be further enhanced towards achieving a clean, green and safe country. ‘Take Your Action, Make A Difference.’