What is biodiversity? Ask people what they think it means, and chances are only a few can accurately define it. Fewer still can explain its significance to human survival. The immense communication gap between the biodiversity conservation community and the general public is a major factor hampering efforts to achieve biodiversity conservation goals in the ASEAN region and elsewhere in the world.
To help bridge this gap, ASEAN will recognize 10 ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes during the 50th anniversary of ASEAN on 8 August 2017. The awards ceremony will be held in Manila, Philippines. The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes is designed to recognize outstanding individuals from the ASEAN Member States who have contributed significantly to biodiversity conservation and advocacy efforts in their respective countries and the region.
“The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes are individuals that people can identify with and will inspire others to take action for biodiversity in their own spheres of influence. As ASEAN Member States continue to work on national development and sustainability goals and collaborate on regional initiatives to conserve ASEAN’s shared natural wealth, ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes play the crucial role of spreading awareness for the urgent need to conserve biodiversity,” said Secretary-General of ASEAN Le Luong Minh. He added that efforts to generate a greater awareness for biodiversity conservation help the region move closer toward achieving the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, a framework for community building and cooperation to attain common goals and aspirations for a politically cohesive, economically integrated, and socially responsible ASEAN.
“These heroes may be forest rangers, researchers, park managers, taxonomists, biodiversity information management specialists, media practitioners, scientists, biodiversity policymakers, academics, conservation workers, and other individuals – young and old – working in the biodiversity conservation arena. They are silent heroes devoting themselves to the survival of humanity,” said Atty. Roberto V. Oliva, Executive Director of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB).
Each ASEAN Biodiversity Hero shall receive a cash prize worth USD 5,000, a special hero medal, and a certificate. They will also receive special prizes from HARI Foundation, Inc. The heroes from the 10 ASEAN Member States will be also be known as the faces of biodiversity conservation in the ASEAN region.
The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes is one of the ASEAN region’s contributions to the celebration of the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity 2011-2020 – an excellent opportunity to increase public awareness of the values of biodiversity and promote actions at the national, regional and local levels to conserve and sustainably manage the world’s rich natural heritage.
The award is supported by the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs, HARI Foundation, Inc., and the European Union through the Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in ASEAN (BCAMP) project. The ACB serves as awards secretariat.