Thu, 22 Oct 2020

ASEAN biodiversity target outlook remains hopeful

Philippine Information Agency
22 Sep 2020, 16:38 GMT+10

CALOOCAN CITY, Sept. 22 (PIA) -- Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the ASEAN region is continuing its work to achieve some of its regional targets for biodiversity conservation, the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) said as it is closely working with the ASEAN Member States to advance the region's efforts.

"We are still optimistic that we can accomplish more in the remaining months," ACB Executive Director Theresa Mundita Lim said at the virtual meeting Dialogue for Potential Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas and Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures Sites held recently.

The ACB joins the CBD in the intensive and final effort to address the Aichi Target 11 implementation through a Virtual Meeting Series, which will be conducted from September to November 2020. The Virtual Meeting Series on Aichi Target 11 Implementation in the ASEAN Region is aimed at filling data gaps and updating the AMS' SMART Action Plans towards achieving the regional biodiversity target.

Aichi Target 11, which aims for conserving at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water and at least 10 per cent marine and coastal areas, is one of the on-track biodiversity targets of the CBD. As of June 2020, ASEAN's terrestrial area coverage is at 13.25 per cent while marine area coverage is at 3.43 per cent, thereby contributing to the total global coverage, estimated at seven percent for marine areas and 15 per cent for terrestrial areas.

CBD Executive Secretary Elizabeth Mrema at the opening of 24th virtual meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) and launch of the 5th Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-5) on 15 September, however, made a sobering announcement that all the targets identified in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, also known as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, will not be fully met within the 2020 deadline.

"In the final reckoning, the world has not met the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, nor are we on track to reach the 2050 vision for biodiversity," said Mrema. "Biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate and the pressure driving this decline is intensifying."

The GBO-5 is the CBD's flagship publication that serves as a "final report card" on the status and progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. The information from the report was culled from the 6th National Reports of member CBD countries, as well as from a wide range of 'indicators, research studies, and assessments.'

Representatives of the ASEAN Member States and the ACB participated in the four-day virtual meeting of SBSTTA.

The ACB is pinning its hope on the contribution of the indigenous and community conserved areas (ICCAs) and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) in implementing Aichi Biodiversity Target 11. ICCAs and OECMs are biodiversity-rich areas such as community-managed sacred grounds, rivers, lakes and ponds and forests which can potentially augment terrestrial and marine protected area coverage in the ASEAN Region.

At the same virtual meeting, Ms. Joji Carino, senior policy advisor of the Forest Peoples' Programme shared how indigenous and traditional practices are inherently aimed at conserving and using natural resources.

"From the vantage point of the indigenous peoples, the conservation and restoration of nature will go hand in hand with the revitalisation of our cultures. And this will be our contribution to the conservation of biodiversity in the region," Carino said.

Dr. Retno Suratri, Senior Official from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia, cited the government's legal recognition of indigenous peoples' communities, along with their customary laws and systems.

For instance, the Indonesian government is working closely with the Working Group on ICCAs (WGII) in Indonesia, a coalition of national civil society organisations working with ICCA keepers and guardians of customary forests. Suratri shared that the WGII pushed for the recognition of 2.9 million hectares of Adat (customary) forests, 500,000 hectares of which were approved by the government in the indicative map.

"In terms of Aichi Target 11, the government was able to establish more than 20 million hectares in marine protected areas, meaning it has already exceeded the 10 per cent requirement of the Aichi Target," Suratni said. "But we need about 10 million hectares more for the terrestrial protected areas."

Dr. Sarat Babu Gidda, Head of Biodiversity Science, Policy and Governance and Senior Programme Management Officer of the CBD Secretariat emphasised the importance of addressing the qualitative elements as it invariably impacts also the quantitative aspects. "Any quantitative increase will have an implication for improving the coverage of ecological representations, interconnection with other areas, and integration into wider landscape and seascape."

Meanwhile, the ACB announced the forthcoming release of the 3rd edition of the ASEAN Biodiversity Outlook (ABO 3), a comprehensive report on the state of the region's biodiversity, the evaluation of the ASEAN's efforts, and the crucial role of subregional cooperation in achieving the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

Similar to the GBO-5, the ABO 3 also draws from the 6th National Reports of the AMS, as well as from the wealth of best available scientific resources. The ABO 3 provides the regional context commonly shared by the AMS, which will serve to guide in developing and improving regional strategies for biodiversity conservation.

Lim said the information and knowledge from resources such as the GBO-5 and soon, the ABO 3, will add value to the development and implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. (PIA NCR)

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