Reaffirming its commitment to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable development globally, the European Union (EU) is supporting the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes, a program designed to recognize outstanding individuals from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam who have contributed significantly to biodiversity conservation and advocacy efforts in their respective countries.
The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes will be the faces of biodiversity conservation in the ASEAN region – individuals that people can identify with and will inspire others to take action for biodiversity. The award is also supported by the ASEAN Secretariat, the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs, and HARI Foundation, Inc. (HFI), the corporate social responsibility arm of Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. (HARI). The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) serves as awards secretariat.
“The European Union is proud to support the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes. As a major development partner of ASEAN countries, the EU is always keen to extend its hand of cooperation to the ASEAN region so we can work together to ensure that ASEAN’s rich biological diversity is conserved and sustainably managed,” said EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen.
He added that “the implementation of the Heroes project in 2017 is a particularly important milestone as it marks the 40th anniversary of cooperation between ASEAN and the EU.” The EU and ASEAN will celebrate 40 years of partnership with a number of events and activities throughout the year.
EU’s support to the Heroes program falls under the Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in ASEAN (BCAMP), a five-year mission (2017-2022) that aims to improve the management of protected areas in the ASEAN, develop and mobilize knowledge and scientific basis for biodiversity conservation, and mainstream biodiversity into the education system and to strengthen the regional capacities.
The project is facilitated by the ACB in partnership with the ASEAN Secretariat. With total funding of EUR 10 million, the project will be implemented at the sub-national level, with supporting actions from the national and regional levels, in line with the global objective of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
“We at ACB appreciate the crucial support provided by the European Union to the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes program and BCAMP. EU has always been a staunch supporter of ACB and the ASEAN Member States in our efforts to curb biodiversity loss,” said Atty. Roberto V. Oliva, Executive Director of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB).
EU’s support to ACB dates back to 1999 when the European Commission (EC) provided a EUR 9.5 million grant to establish ACB’s predecessor, the ASEAN Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (ARCBC). The ARCBC fostered strong collaboration among the ASEAN Member States and between ASEAN and EC partner institutions, gradually gaining recognition in the regional and global biodiversity arena. In 2004, the EC supported the establishment of ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity with a grant of EUR 6 million. The Centre was formally launched in 2005.
“With the strong support and commitment of both ASEAN and the European Union, ACB has been able to enhance policy cooperation on biodiversity across the ASEAN region, to strengthen institutional and human capacity within ASEAN on regional and global biodiversity issues, to strengthen biodiversity information management, and to boost public awareness in relation to biodiversity issues and conservation needs,” Atty. Oliva said.