World Environment Day is celebrated every year on 5 June to bring attention to environmental problems such as illegal wildlife trade, climate change, habitat degradation, biodiversity loss, and many other challenges.
“The celebration of this day provides us with an opportunity to broaden the basis for an enlightened opinion and responsible conduct by individuals, enterprises and communities in preserving and enhancing the environment,” according to the United Nations.
Since it began in 1972, citizens from all over have launched thousands of campaigns to encourage others to contribute in implementing positive environmental action. This year’s theme, ‘Connecting People to Nature,’ invites people to think how they are part of nature and how intimately they depend on it.
“We at the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity join people everywhere in celebrating World Environment Day. We call on everyone to look at the interconnectedness among humans, plants, animals, and other species in the web of life, and think of ways to be part of the solution in addressing environmental challenges,” said ACB Executive Director Roberto V. Oliva.
According to ACB, there are a number of ways by which people can connect with nature. “Be a biodiversity hero by knowing more about the web of life and the hundreds of things you can do to conserve biodiversity. Plant a tree. Initiate a clean-up activity. Start a simple biodiversity education activity in your community. Be a citizen volunteer in an environment protection group. Every step – big or small, counts. We can be biodiversity heroes not only during World Environment Day, but every day,” Oliva shared.
On 7 August 2017, ASEAN will introduce 10 ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes to represent Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam. The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes are outstanding individuals from the ASEAN region who not only have connected with nature, but also have contributed significantly to biodiversity conservation and advocacy efforts in their respective countries.
One of the commemorative activities for the Golden Anniversary of ASEAN, the Heroes project is supported by the ASEAN Secretariat; the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs; the European Union through the Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in ASEAN (BCAMP) project; and HARI Foundation, Inc. (HFI), the corporate social responsibility arm of Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. (HARI). The ACB serves as awards secretariat.
The ACB is an intergovernmental organization that facilitates cooperation and coordination among the ASEAN Member States and with relevant national governments, regional and international organizations on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, guided by fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of such natural resources. It is the sole ASEAN center being hosted by the Philippines.