LOS BAÑOS, Laguna: Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) inaugurated here a building envisioned as a staging platform to further amplify the message of conserving biodiversity in one of the fastest-growing regions in the world.
Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, Deputy Secretary General of Asean Socio-Cultural Community, underscored the importance of Asean to emphasize conservation and sustainable development in the region now hosting 630 million people.
“The potential for economic growth will continue. But you can imagine if economic growth continue to grow but there is no effort to try to protect the environment, the future generation will be facing increasing environmental challenges,” he said.
Arthakaivalvatee identified biodiversity one of the important environment issues the Asean needs to address.
He pointed out that the region should give attention to the preservation of environment for the future generations.
Arthakaivalvatee said Asean is now one of the fastest growing regions in the world, noting “that trend will continue and that is why it is important for us Asean to plan and prepare for the future.”
He said Asean Center for Biodiversity’s (ACB) headquarters would serve as a “coordinating center” for efforts of Asean toward biodiversity conservation.
“Asean has importance of moving in multi-pronged approach. We promote economic, trade, finance,
transportation linkages but we also make sure things such as human resource development, education, how we encourage youth engagement, understand the ideas of Asean,” he added.
Sen. Loren Legarda said great challenges confront Asean in the task of protecting and preserving the region’s rich biodiversity.
Legarda said the establishment of the Asean Economic Community (AEC), since it promotes economic, political, social and cultural cooperation across the region, “is seen as a way for the region to gain greater influence in the global economic and political stage.”
The senator also enjoined other Asean member-states to craft policies that would strengthen the management and protection of their natural resources, particularly in critical areas including watersheds, marine sanctuaries, wetlands, tropical forests, coastal areas, among others.
The ACB building, located within the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna, was launched in time for the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Asean.
The Philippines is the host country of ACB by virtue of a Host Country Agreement signed in 2009.
Apart from the formal launch of the building, one of the highlights of the event was the signing ceremony between the ACB and the European Union for the Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in Asean (BCAMP).
BCAMP is a five-year mission that aims to improve the management of protected areas in Asean, develop and mobilize knowledge and scientific basis for biodiversity conservation, and mainstream biodiversity into the education system and to strengthen the regional capacities.