From 21 – 23 October 2009, the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and the National Parks Board (NParks) of Singapore also hosted the ‘ASEAN Conference on Biodiversity 2009’, which was attended by some 300 officials from ASEAN countries, international and regional organizations, and biodiversity expert. The meeting aimed to provide a forum for the exchange of information and views on biodiversity issues relevant to the ASEAN region in the run up to the 10th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, in 2010. During the meeting, there were parallel sessions on climate change and biodiversity; access to genetic resources and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of their utilization; and economics of ecosystems and biodiversity – the ASEAN region’s contribution.
The meeting was opened by H.E. Dato’ Misran Karmain (Deputy Secretary, ASEAN) who talked about the contribution of the ASEAN region towards the conservation of biodiversity worldwide. For example, three of the ASEAN countries, i.e. Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines, are recognized as centres of biodiversity, whilst the region supports 30% of the world’s coral reef and 65% of all mangrove forests. However, the benefits from biodiversity conservation for economic and social development also need to be considered. This is because the region supports 500 million people, one third of whom earn less than US$2 per day and these people depend on the region’s biodiversity for their livelihood. As a result, biodiversity conservation should ultimately benefit the people who are conserving it.
This message of the important role of biodiversity conservation in sustainable development was echoed by the other opening speakers, such as Mr. Rodrigo Fuentes (Executive Director, ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity), H.E. Holger Standertskjold Nordenstam (Head of Delegation, European Commission to Singapore) and Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf (Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity).
The meeting was a good opportunity for the Ramsar Convention to have greater engagement with the governments and organizations in the ASEAN region, and the Ramsar booth at the conference drew a lot of interest from representatives of countries that were already Contracting Parties to the Convention, as well as from countries that were non-Contracting Parties.
Photographs by Lew Young
Representatives from the Philippines in front of the Ramsar booth at the Participants at the ASEAN Conference on Biodiversity
Discussions during a parallel session at the ASEAN Conference on Biodiversity.