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Protecting humanity’s ‘life-support system’

Danial Norjidi

Access to accurate science-based biodiversity data is crucial to develop more effective strategies for restoring biodiversity at the national, regional and global scales, according to ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) Executive Director Dr Theresa Mundita S Lim.

She shared this in a statement issued in conjunction with International Day for Biological Diversity, which was marked on May 22. She noted that the annual celebration shines a spotlight on nature and biodiversity and their importance to humanity and the planet.

Touching on the theme for this year’s occasion ‘From Agreement to Action: Build Back Biodiversity’, she highlighted that it refers to the adoption and implementation of the historic Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KM GBF) adopted by nearly 200 countries during the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBDCOP 15) in December 2022.

“The agreement was momentous, as it took two years over the course of a pandemic to put in place a set of goals and targets to reverse the rapidly increasing rate of biodiversity loss,” said Dr Lim.

“However, the world now faces a common challenge in translating these goals and targets into actions, considering the other global issues we are facing today.

“ASEAN’s response to the KM GBF entails a participatory and multi-stakeholder approach promoting nature-based solutions and sustainable use and management of natural resources.”

She further noted that, through a joint statement delivered at COP 15, ASEAN reiterated its commitment to: halt species extinctions and protect priority species populations in the ASEAN region; identify, manage, and protect important ecosystems; encourage efforts on the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal ecosystems; restore habitats and ecosystems; strengthen institutional arrangements, including through transboundary cooperation to improve governance and effective operationalisation of multilateral agreements and frameworks; and promote nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches, among others.

“It is also a recognition that global targets must be addressed through multiple sectoral efforts, and rightly so, because biological diversity underpins everyone’s concern and priorities in building back better,” she added.

She underscored that, to effectively contribute to the achievement of new global biodiversity targets, it is imperative to assess how the region has fared in meeting the previous set of biodiversity goals, or the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

“In view of this, we are releasing the full online version of the Third Edition of the ASEAN Biodiversity Outlook (ABO 3) which outlines how the ASEAN Member States contributed to realising the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (2011–2020).

“While the summary of the ABO 3 was officially launched during the CBDCOP 15 in Montreal, Canada, the full online version is meant to reach a larger audience and act as a readily available updated source of information for biodiversity research studies with an emphasis on the ASEAN region.”

Dr Lim explained that the report builds on the ABO 2, which provided a mid-term evaluation of the region’s progress toward meeting the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and the ABO 1, highlighting regional initiatives to meet the 2010 global biodiversity targets.

The ABO 3, she said, presents significant recommendations in scaling up measures that will serve as the blueprint from which all evidence-based decisions, actions, and policies in the region will be drafted.

“Emphasising the need for science-based decision-making for nature, the ACB and the ASEAN member states continue to conduct research studies and develop popularised knowledge products on biodiversity,” said Dr Lim.

She proceeded to share that some of the newest knowledge products of the ASEAN include: policy briefs on mainstreaming biodiversity in agriculture and education, combatting illegal wildlife trade, harnessing the power of youth to achieve biodiversity and climate goals, and on non-use values of wild elephants in five provinces border forests of Thailand; and the scientific paper on Building the Case for Expanding Marine Conservation Areas: An Urgent Call in the ASEAN Region.

The executive director added that the publication of the ABO 3 and other released knowledge products were made possible through ASEAN’s partnership with the European Union under the Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in ASEAN (BCAMP) Project, and with the Pew Charitable Trusts. “As the implementation of the global biodiversity targets is now underway, it is critical to have access to accurate science-based biodiversity data to develop more effective strategies for restoring biodiversity at the national, regional, and global scales.”

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