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    Faces of ASEAN’s biodiversity conservation

    Danial Norjidi

    The recipients of the 2022 ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes awards were recently announced, with founder of the Biodiversity and Natural History Society (BruWILD) and Head of Environmental Solutions and Brunei Country Manager of DHI Water and Environment Liaw Lin Ji from Brunei Darussalam among the awardees.

    The 2022 ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes awards shines a spotlight on the individuals whose exemplary efforts and advocacies make a wave of impact in their countries and in their own ways, said a press statement.

    A youth leader, a legislator, a marine conservation pioneer, a geoheritage expert, a veterinarian, a marine biodiversity expert and science communicator, an environment officer, and two foresters were among those honoured at the awards ceremony in Bogor, Indonesia on November 2.

    The awards night was one of the highlights of the 7th ASEAN Heritage Parks Conference organised by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry-Directorate of Biodiversity Conservation of Species and Genetics.

    Launched in 2017, the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes is a flagship programme of the ASEAN that showcases the impactful advocacies and actions of environmental champions with the goal of inspiring more people to stand up for biodiversity.

    Recipients of the 2022 ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes during an award ceremony in Bogor, Indonesia. PHOTOS: ASEAN CENTRE FOR BIODIVERSITY
    Founder of the Biodiversity and Natural History Society (BruWILD) and Head of Environmental Solutions and Brunei Country Manager of DHI Water and Environment Liaw Lin Ji

    Touching on the 2nd ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes awardees, the statement noted that Brunei Darussalam’s Liaw Lin Ji was awarded “for using creative education materials to make biodiversity a fun and relatable topic and inspiring generations of biodiversity champions in children and people of all ages”.

    Also among the recipients were: Deputy Director of Biodiversity Department, Ministry of Environment, Cambodia, Chak Sokhavicheaboth; Coordinator of Leuser Wildlife Rescue Team and Veterinarian, Leuser Conservation Forum, Indonesia, Dr Anhar Lubis; The National Eld’s Deer Sanctuary Areas, Lao PDR Khamphay Xayyalad, Manager; Professor Emeritus at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Professor Ibrahim bin Komoo; Forester at Inlay Lake Wildlife Sanctuary, Myanmar, Nay Win Swe; the Philippines’ Senator Loren Legarda, Senate President Pro-Tempore; Emeritus Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Professor Chou Loke Ming; and Professor at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand Professor Suchana Chavanich.

    In a welcome message, Chairman ASOEN-Indonesia and Director-General of the Agency for Standardisation of Environment and Forestry Instruments (ASEFI), Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Indonesia Ary Sudijanto commended the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes “for their countless dedication, works, and meaningful contributions through many ways and for manifesting concrete actions toward biodiversity conservation”.

    He also called on the delegates of the 7th ASEAN Heritage Parks Conference to take concrete actions and enhance knowledge and skills on planning and implementing ecosystem management, restoration strategies, and building resilience.

    Meanwhile, Director for Sustainable Development at the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Department, ASEAN Secretariat Ky-Anh Nguyen said, “ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes awards demonstrate that there are individuals who are concerned about environmental issues and are rising to the challenges of curbing biodiversity losses.

    “These heroes are taking concrete actions and are implementing exemplary initiatives to promote the conservation of biodiversity in our region.

    “Their works bring about to the peoples of ASEAN a better understanding, awareness and appreciation of the diverse values of biodiversity and inspire individuals to make real changes and actions for a sustainable future for all of us.”

    Executive Director of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity Dr Theresa Mundita Lim lauded the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes for deciding to face the growing problem of biodiversity loss aggravated by a changing climate and choosing to act on it.

    “The region, with the rest of the world, is experiencing environmental, social, and global health crises that suggest a critical turning point. International communities all agree that decisive and transformative actions must be undertaken now before it is too late.

    “It is but fitting that we recognise the exceptional changemakers during the 7th ASEAN Heritage Parks Conference – an event that promotes healing and recovery through ecosystem protection and restoration,” she said.

    “The work that our ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes do serves as a reminder and inspiration for us to do our part in safeguarding biodiversity for the future. They show us how actions – big or small – are vital contributions to a sustainable future for both people and nature. The diversity in their backgrounds, passion, and advocacies are testimonies that conserving our web of life is everyone’s concern,” she added.

    Since its inception, the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes has been supported by the European Union (EU) through the Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in ASEAN (BCAMP) project. This year, the ASEAN partnered with Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC).

    Counsellor/Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to ASEAN Thibaut Portevin said, “As a region with a very high biodiversity, the whole of ASEAN and its member states, together with dialogue and development partners, the private sector, and the public, it must take bold actions. The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes awards gives recognition to such people, passionate individuals from the ASEAN region who have dedicated their lives to diversity.”

    “With the first group of award winners in 2017, we have seen how inspiring the success stories can be. From developing ecotourism programmes that inspire generation of tourists, community leaders and conservation workers, to chairing the intergovernmental platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services, the 2017 group of Biodiversity Heroes has not only inspired more people in the ASEAN, but also the rest of the world.

    “I’m very pleased that the 2022 ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes are diverse leaders in their own rights, researchers and public servants and veterinarians, among others. Their contribution to the bigger cause of inspiring change for people in nature cannot be underestimated. I hope that you will continue to inspire others so that they may follow your example with the same energy and passion for protecting the region’s rich biodiversity,” he added.

    Each awardee received a Heroes’ fund worth EUR5,000 to augment the valuable advocacy efforts they are doing in their countries for biodiversity. The statement also mentioned that an ASEAN trophy and a special prize courtesy of MPIC were also given to the awardees.

    The laureates, who will be known as the faces of biodiversity conservation in the ASEAN region, will also be invited to share their advocacies in regional events.

    MPIC’s Chief Finance, Risk and Sustainability Officer Chaye Cabal-Revilla said, “Championing biodiversity conservation is a collective responsibility. We are committed to set examples and use our huge influence in the private sector to encourage more companies to also take bold and urgent actions to protect, restore, and sustainably manage our natural ecosystems. It is our moral obligation to chart a better future for our people and planet.”

    The statement added that the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes were selected based on the relevance of their contributions to biodiversity conservation, the impact of these contributions to biodiversity conservation efforts in their respective countries and the region, the replicability of their actions, and the recognition they received in communities where they belong.

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