Now is the time for ASEAN member states to join a global effort to protect at least 30% of the Earth's land and ocean

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, May 25, 2021 (Antara/Bernama-AsiaNet) - On the occasion of World Biodiversity Day, a growing number of elected officials, Indigenous leaders, scientists, and other experts are calling on ASEAN leaders to endorse ambitious proposals to protect biodiversity and advance Indigenous rights through the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

After a year-long delay, the official negotiations of the Convention on Biological Diversity have resumed this month and are scheduled to conclude in Kunming, China this October. As delegates from 196 countries--including all of the ASEAN member states--participate in the negotiations, eyes are on the ASEAN region. As one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, ASEAN member states have a crucial role to play in developing a successful global strategy to safeguard biodiversity. ASEAN is a leader of the Like-Minded Megadiverse Countries that champion conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity since its inception in 2002 and harbours 70% of global biodiversity.

While ASEAN member states have yet to finalize their positions, there is growing support around the world for a scientific proposal to conserve at least 30% of the planet's land and ocean, which would respect Indigenous rights and engage Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities as partners in implementation.

The 30x30 proposal is championed by the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People (HAC)--an intergovernmental coalition of more than 60 countries co-chaired by Costa Rica, France, and the UK. Cambodia is the first HAC member from the ASEAN region. Other Asian members include Japan, Pakistan, and the Maldives. The 30x30 proposal has been included in the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity's draft strategy as a global target, as countries will have different opportunities for biodiversity conservation depending on the particular circumstances in their national territory. It is appropriate that how to implement such a globally agreed target be a sovereign decision made in conjunction with the best science.

Overwhelming scientific evidence and economic data shows that conserving at least 30% of the planet's land and ocean is a key way to help address global biodiversity loss--in addition to storing carbon, preventing future pandemics, bolstering economic growth, increasing fisheries' production, and advancing Indigenous rights.

The economic benefits are strong: an independent study prepared by more than 100 economists and experts found that meeting the 30% target will generate financial and ecosystem services benefits at least five times the cost.

With these benefits in mind, the following leaders make the case for why ASEAN member states should publicly support the 30x30 global target and advance Indigenous rights.

The undersigned endorse this declaration:

  1. Prof Dr Zakri Abdul Hamid - Chairman of Atri Advisory, Ambassador and Science Adviser for the Campaign for Nature, Former Science Adviser to the Prime Minister of Malaysia
  2. Dr Antonio G. M. La Viña - Executive Director, Manila Observatory, Former Environment Undersecretary, Philippines
  3. Prof Dr Emil Salim - Member, Brundtland Commission, Chairman of the Advisory Council to the President of Indonesia, Former Minister of State for Population and the Environment
  4. Dr Yongyuth Yuthavong - Senior Adviser to the President, National S&T Development Agency, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand
  5. Dr Salleh Mohd Noor - Former President, International Union of Forest Research Organizations, 2016 Merdeka Award Laureate, Former Secretary General Academy of Sciences Malaysia
  6. Dr Ravi Sharma - Advisor for Athena Infonomics, formerly with CBD Secretariat, Montreal
  7. Dr Saw Leng Guan - Curator of Penang Botanical Gardens, Medal recipient of the Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh
  8. Prof Dr Ahmad Ismail - President, Malaysian Nature Society, Fellow, Academy of Sciences Malaysia
  9. Prof Dr Mohamad Osman - Former President, Genetics Society of Malaysia
  10. Prof Dr Khatijah Yusoff - Vice President, The World Academy of Sciences, 2015 Merdeka Award Laureate
Possible Quotes:
 
. Prof Dr Zakri Abdul Hamid (Malaysia)
Ambassador and Science Adviser for the Campaign for Nature, Former Science Advisor to Malaysia's Prime Minister, 2017 ASEAN Biodiversity Hero for Malaysia
 
"To overcome the current global health crisis and mitigate those to come, science guides us. Having delivered life-saving vaccines for COVID-19 -- which the IMF estimates will have cost the global economy $28 trillion by 2025 -- scientists now urge us to preserve intact natural areas to prevent similar infectious disease outbreaks in future. Protecting at least 30 percent of the planet by 2030 is a timely and important action to defend and improve the health of our planet, our economies, and ourselves. I urge all Malaysians and ASEAN neighbours to support this goal."
 
. Prof Dr Emil Salim (Indonesia)
Chairman of the Advisory Council to the President of Indonesia, Former Minister of State for Population and the Environment
 
"The proposal to protect at least 30 percent of the planet by 2030 is built on the belief that the best conservation actions are those that benefit local communities and reflect local wisdom. Embracing and contributing to this global target is a powerful opportunity for ASEAN countries to recommit to nature conservation as an essential way of achieving sustainable economic growth."
 
. Yongyuth Yuthavong (Thailand)
Senior Adviser to the President, National S&T Development Agency, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand
 
"The science is overwhelmingly clear: much more of our planet must be protected and time is running out. The proposal to protect at least 30 percent of the planet's land and ocean by 2030 is ambitious, achievable, and a good first step towards addressing the crisis facing our natural world. Presently, Thailand still has 32% natural forest land, and 10% economic forest land. In our strategic plan, we aim to achieve 35% natural forest land and 15% economic forest land. I encourage all ASEAN countries to support the important global target, at least through national plans and co-operation with the global community."
 
. Dr Antonio G. M. La Viña
Executive Director, Manila Observatory, Former Environment Undersecretary, Philippines
 
https://en.antaranews.com/news/175178/now-is-the-time-for-asean-member-states-to-join-a-global-effort-to-protect-at-least-30-of-the-earths-land-and-ocean
"There is growing recognition that effectively responding to climate change will require greater attention to and an increased investment in nature conservation. I encourage all ASEAN countries to embrace the proposal to protect at least 30 percent of the planet as an important element of an ambitious climate strategy."
 
. Prof Dr Ahmad Ismail
President, Malaysia Nature Society, Fellow, Academy of Sciences Malaysia
 
"Malaysia as top 12th mega-biodiversity country in the world should look at its biodiversity for the benefit of humankind. Not just protecting enough size of forested lands and marine areas but need to develop capacity building for nature protection, management and conservation."

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