ASEAN representatives recently convened in Pasay City, the Philippines, undertaking a two-day mission to strategise for biodiversity preservation in accordance with the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

The Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) hosted and led the 33rd meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on Nature and Conservation and Biodiversity (AWGNCB), with ASEAN secretariat and ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) providing support.

The AWGNCB session, held on June 20-21, assembled key ASEAN policymakers to deliberate on the conservation and sustainable usage of the region’s abundant biodiversity, contributing to resilience, recovery and economic advancement in Southeast Asia. The AWGNCB was instituted to enhance cooperation in addressing the region’s biological resource management.

In accordance with ASEAN tradition, hosting duties for these meetings are rotated among member states. The last gathering in the Philippines was a decade ago, in 2013, with the following one anticipated in 2033.

DENR-BMB Assistant Secretary Marcial Amaro, the meeting’s chair, emphasised the significance of regional collaboration and AWGNCB’s role in the realisation of the 23 global biodiversity goals ratified in 2022.

Amaro underscored the necessity for enhanced collective efforts, given the transcendent nature of biodiversity challenges. He highlighted targets such as restoring degraded ecosystems, which demand a connected approach to augment ecosystem functions and services.

“Monitoring, assessing, and reporting compliance of large, transnational companies and financial institutions entail cooperation among AMS for full disclosure of risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity,” he said.

In addition to ASEAN members, the meeting’s open session welcomed representatives from regional dialogue and development partners, including Germany’s development agency GIZ, consulting group GITEC-IGIP GmbH, Japan’s environment ministry and the Hanns Seidel Foundation, among others.

Key discussion points encompassed the newly designated and proposed ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHPs), regional biodiversity programme updates, ASEAN biodiversity heroes, and the first cycle outcomes of the ASEAN green initiative.

Participants also deliberated the region’s progress towards the global biodiversity targets. Youth biodiversity leaders participated in the talks, presenting next steps for the newly established ASEAN youth biodiversity programme.

ACB executive director Theresa Mundita Lim underscored the importance of regional collaboration and cross-sector cooperation, expressing gratitude to the Philippine government for leading the region’s biodiversity and sustainable development initiatives.