Esteemed panel of speakers of the second virtual session of the Third ASEAN Conference on Biodiversity or ACB 2020 held via Zoom on Tuesday.

27 October 2020 – The second virtual session of the Third ASEAN Conference on Biodiversity or ACB 2020 on Tuesday drew over a hundred representatives from government, private sector, academia and non-government agencies from the ASEAN. The attending experts weighed in with their experiences and views on biodiversity mainstreaming relevant to the Region’s context.

The meeting held on Zoom and broadcast live on Facebook focused on mainstreaming of biodiversity, or the process of embedding biodiversity considerations into policies and practices of sectors that rely and have an impact on it.

Keynoted by Oliver Hillel, programme officer of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the programme is part of a series of virtual sessions being organised by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (KeTSA) of Malaysia in the run-up to the physical conference to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2021.

In the face of pressing global challenges such as the ongoing health crisis, the task of integrating biodiversity considerations into development plans and processes become even more critical and urgent not just for ASEAN but for the rest of the world. “The COVID-19 crisis served as a catalyst for change. It made people perceive how important it is to integrate nature in development and are now coming up with nature-based solutions,” Hillel said.

Hillel also presented the action areas identified in the action plan for the long-term approach on biodiversity mainstreaming, which was released this year by the Informal Advisory Group on Mainstreaming composed of experts nominated by parties to the CBD.

One of these action areas stressed the need for assessment, valuation, and accounting tools and methodologies to inform decision making at all levels of governance, he said.

Another action area, he said, tackles the issue of financial resources, particularly incentives and subsidies.

“Biodiversity today is threatened, mainly due to human actions stemming from perverse incentives and subsidies to nature. We need to bend that curve and prohibit and refrain from harmful incentives and develop green safeguards and promote nature-friendly innovation tools”, he said.

Hillel likewise emphasised that multi-stakeholder participation along with connecting national and sectoral processes and upscaling of existing tools are important in biodiversity mainstreaming.

Other reactors in the panel were Clarissa Arida, director of the ACB’s Programme Development and Implementation Unit; Dr. Glenn Gregorio, director of Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA); Dr. Nappy Navarra of the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA), and Dr. Khairul Naim Adham, undersecretary of the Biodiversity Management Division of KeTSA.

The webinar was moderated by Dato’ Dr. Marzalina Mansor, deputy-director general of the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM).

Speaking on behalf of ACB Executive Director Theresa Mundita Lim, Arida said many initiatives in the ASEAN contribute to facilitating long-term approaches to mainstreaming biodiversity.

“The ASEAN Member States (AMS) are implementing mainstreaming of biodiversity through their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs),” said Arida, citing good practices of the AMS.

Singapore, for example, has been engaging financial institutions to consider environmental, social, and governance criteria in decision-making processes, as well as in developing the green bond market. In the Philippines, the government has partnered with a renewable energy company for the conservation of priority threatened species. Thailand incorporated biodiversity awareness into its education curriculum.

In Malaysia’s case, Dr. Naim pointed out that biodiversity considerations have been embedded into the country’s land use plan through the National Physical Plan, which includes initiatives and strategies related to biodiversity conservation. Other initiatives aligned with biodiversity conservation in Malaysia are the mandatory implementation of the national certification scheme for palm oil growers, the establishment of the Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund, and the adoption of integrated river basin management approach for the protection of key water resources.

Lena Chan, senior director of the International Biodiversity Conservation of Singapore’s National Parks, said it is imperative to implement biodiversity mainstreaming as governments need to adopt an integrated approach to sustainable development. “We must proceed at top speed to mainstream biodiversity especially heading our way to COP 15 and beyond,” added Chan.

Gregorio, on the other hand, underlined the importance of accelerating the transformation of the agriculture sector and applying agrobiodiversity innovations. He said SEARCA has embedded innovative and transformative approaches into their current five-year plan. “We saw the need to rethink how we view agriculture, our food and food production. Biodiversity is at the core of all this,” he said.

Meanwhile, Navarra discussed how architects mainstream biodiversity into sustainable urban development by promoting innovative approaches in urban spaces, reintroducing natural areas in cities, and promoting the use of native vegetation and blue-green corridors and habitat restoration.

Navarra said architects, whose roles include being “stewards of the land”, recognise that biodiversity conservation is a shared responsibility of the private and public sectors.

Similarly, Dr. Naim noted in his intervention that biodiversity mainstreaming requires a whole-of-nation approach. For this, he emphasised that as a regional body, the rich experience and success stories of ASEAN Member States will inspire others in the Region and across the world to further their efforts in protecting biodiversity through mainstreaming.

The full recording of the second session of the virtual ACB 2020 may be accessed through this link:

On 23 September 2020, the ACB 2020 kicked off through a virtual dialogue intended to enhance understanding of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) among the ASEAN Member States with focus on several priority areas emphasised by the ASEAN: mainstreaming, resource mobilisation, and nature-based solutions.