UNDP Thailand participates at ASEAN Conference on Biodiversity 201617-Feb-2016
Bangkok, Thailand – Recognising that biodiversity and sustainable development are inextricably linked, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Centre for Biodiversity, in cooperation with ASEAN Member States, the ASEAN Secretariat and partner organisations, held the Second ASEAN Conference on Biodiversity under the theme “Biodiversity for Sustainable Development” on 15 - 19 February in Bangkok.
The Conference aims to provide an opportunity for biodiversity stakeholders to enhance partnerships and form new alliances; discuss ways and means to financially sustain biodiversity conservation in the ASEAN region through the ASEAN Biodiversity Fund; and engage more sectors, particularly the business community, in biodiversity conservation and advocacy.
Hosted by the Royal Thai Government, the ASEAN Conference on Biodiversity (ACB2016) was attended by over 500 government representatives from ASEAN Member States (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam), international, regional and national institutions; non-governmental organisations; civil society organisations; academia, science and research community; private-sector; students and the media.
The Conference was opened by H.E. General Surasak Karnjanarat, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Thailand; H.E. Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community; and Atty. Roberto Oliva, Executive Director, ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB). In his opening message, H.E. General Surasak Karnjanarat, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Thailand described his country's global and national efforts in biodiversity conservation, and expressed gratitude to conservation partners. “The security of our natural resource base is a key priority in the vison of the 20-year Country Strategy which emphasizes the inclusive access and equitable benefit sharing of biological resources for sustainable development, as well as the role that the business sector can play in biodiversity conservation and sustainable utilization and production,” he added.
Biodiversity, short for biological diversity, provides the basis for food security, human health, clean air and water, and contributes to local livelihoods, economic development and a host of services that are basic to human survival. Yet despite its fundamental importance, people have little or no awareness of biodiversity. This lack of awareness is a grave problem which left unaddressed will continue to seriously hamper the implementation of biodiversity conservation efforts in the ASEAN region. In recognition of the urgent need for action, the United Nations General Assembly has declared 2011-2020 as the United Nations Decade for Biodiversity.
The Conference aims to highlight how the implementation phase of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will provide a tremendous opportunity to mainstream biodiversity in key national priorities and, at the same time, help countries achieve the objectives of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets. The targets, which were agreed by 192 governments in 2010, were further reaffirmed in the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). Meeting the Aichi Biodiversity Targets will contribute significantly to broader national and global priorities addressed through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Concerted efforts to advance biodiversity conservation and utilization for sustainable development to achieve the Aichi Targets, is crucial for the ASEAN region which occupies only three percent of the world’s total land area, but is home to approximately 20 percent of all plant and animal species.
In his keynote message, Atty. Roberto V. Olivia, Executive Director, ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) called for everyone to become champions for biodiversity, stressing, “If we are already biodiversity champions, then it behooves us to work even harder and make biodiversity conservation a personal cause.”
At the opening ceremony, the ACB presented a plaque of appreciation to the Royal Thai Government for its various efforts in conserving ASEAN’s shared natural heritage. The Centre noted the significant contribution and generous support accorded by Thailand to projects and activities conducted in pursuit of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and to strengthen the implementation of the goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
During the plenary keynote session one, UNDP Regional Team Leader for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development, Mr. Joseph, D’Cruz, stated, “In the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is very hard to identify a specific element for which biodiversity is not critical. Biodiversity matters for the entire agenda.” He emphasised that there should be greater understanding that biodiversity delivers essential ecosystem services; it is essential to sustainable consumption; and that biodiversity has a cost. Financing has to be addressed in all elements, and numbers should show that investment brings results. “Let’s start looking at biodiversity conservation not just as an aim by itself but to the achievement of the SDGs,” he added.
On the topic of sustainable finance for biodiversity, on the second day of the Conference, UNDP Thailand presented the case of the Biodiversity Finance Initiative, also referred to as BIOFIN. The Initiative is a new global partnership seeking to address the biodiversity finance challenge in a comprehensive manner, building a sound business case for increased investment in the management of ecosystems and biodiversity, with a particular focus on the needs and transformational opportunities at the national level. In Thailand, BIOFIN will provide a framework for undertaking 'bottom-up' analyses of the biodiversity finance gap and resource mobilization strategies, through a transformative process led by national stakeholders.
As part of the post-conference activities, participants will have the chance to witness Thailand’s biodiversity conservation efforts up close with a field visit to Thailand’s first national park and an ASEAN Heritage Park, Khao Yai National Park.
For more information on the ACB2016, please visit: https://www.aseanbiodiversity.org/acb2016/#conference