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  • ASEAN exec highlights inextricable link between biodiversity loss and climate crisis at COP28

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – As a significant leap forward for the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in global climate action, the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) finally accredited the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity an intergovernmental organisation observer status in the UNFCCC COP sessions. This is seen as a milestone for ASEAN as the ACB is now in a better position to strengthen its work in promoting synergy of actions in the region to optimise resources and efforts in addressing the interlinked crises of biodiversity loss and climate change.

    ACB Executive Director Dr. Theresa Mundita S. Lim delivered the ACB statement at the resumed high-level segment of the UNFCCC COP28 on 11 December.

    ACB Executive Director Dr. Theresa Mundita Lim, in her opening statement at the resumed high-level segment of the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 28) cited that the Southeast Asian region is home to more than twenty-five per cent of the world’s known plant and animal species although it only occupies three per cent of the world’s surface area. However, as one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change directly affected by extreme weather events, it has yet to fully harness this biodiversity richness to address this vulnerability.

    The good news, according to Dr Lim, is that ‘’our leaders in ASEAN have recognised that we cannot tackle climate change without the vital services provided by our rich biodiversity and ecosystems. Healthy species and ecosystem diversity enhance nature’s ability to store and sequester carbon, and act as our natural defence against climate change-related impacts. A well-balanced ecosystem regulates climate, reduces the risk of pandemics, and provides water and food security.”

    She is also very pleased that the ACB has been granted this status after almost two years of completing and processing of requirements.

    “We have been fortunate to witness in person at plenary, the historic adoption to the Decision on Operationalisation of the new funding arrangements for responding to loss and damage at the opening of the COP. We were also able to join the world leaders at the High Level segment, including some of the Heads of States of AMS, who expressed their commitment and aspirations towards accelerating action to meet our climate ambitions,” the Executive Director added.

    Side event on Nature-based Solutions (NbS)

    The ACB, in partnership with the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), hosted a side event titled Harmonising Biodiversity and Climate Change Goals through Nature-Based Solutions: Experiences from the ASEAN Region at the Philippine Pavilion on 11 December.

    The panel was composed of the Head of Brunei Climate Change Secretariat, Division Chief of the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), an indigenous youth leader from the Non-Timber Forest Products – Exchange Programme (NTFP-EP) Asia, and the Samahan ng mga Nagkakaisang Katutubong Kabataan (SNaKK), and moderated by Carlo Carlos of the ACB. The side event discussed the nexus of climate change and biodiversity and provided perspectives, experiences, and insights on nature-based solutions at the regional, national, and community levels using the whole-of-society approach.

    This joint activity was part of a series of side events hosted at the Philippine Pavilion aimed at strengthening the role of nature-based solutions in global climate action. The ACB anticipated that this event could lead to embracing approaches that not only include technological and engineering advancements, but also biodiversity-based measures, and taking into account traditional and local knowledge, creating more opportunities for cross-sectoral collaboration and multilateral initiatives in the region.

    Nature-based solutions or natural climate solutions were at the heart of the ACB’s participation at the COP28. The Philippine-based ASEAN centre of excellence for regional cooperation on biodiversity enjoined all AMS in calling for support to adaptation and resilience through nature-based solutions that protect vulnerable groups. The ACB also promoted its ongoing efforts on forest protection and rehabilitation as part of regional climate action, as mentioned by Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam in their respective statements at the high-level segment.

    In support of the ASEAN Centre for Climate Change hosted by Brunei Darussalam, the ACB likewise welcomed representatives from the Brunei Climate Change Secretariat (BCCS) in its headquarters in Laguna, Philippines to share its experiences as a regional hub for biodiversity conservation. The ACB expressed its readiness to work with the ACCC in promoting nature-based solutions to climate change in the region.

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