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ASEAN to Hold Workshop on Promoting Role of Taxonomy in Biodiversity

Laguna, Philippines — Government information officers, journalists and members of the ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHP) Committee from the ten ASEAN Member States will meet in Surabaya, Indonesia on November 19-21 for an international meeting-workshop on promoting public awareness of the role of taxonomy in biodiversity conservation. In partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) of Indonesia and the Universitas Pelita Harapan (UPH)-Surabaya, the event is funded by the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund through the Expanded Taxonomic Capacity Building and Governance for Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity Project.

Mr. Demetrio L. Ignacio, Jr., Acting Executive Director of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and concurrently Undersecretary of the Philippines' Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said that although ASEAN is home to key biodiversity regions in the world, with three of the world's 17 mega-diverse countries (Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines) found in the region, the lack of trained human resources and inadequate capacities on taxonomy has been stressed as one of the obstacles in the implementation of Convention on Biological Diversity commitments, especially in Southeast Asia.

"Human activities, the driving force behind the regional growth, threaten biological resources. Access to scientific information on biodiversity in this region, however, is a crucial issue in the assessment and prediction of biodiversity changes, caused mainly by inadequate taxonomic capacity in data collection and analysis. This is further compounded by the lack of awareness by the media sector that there exists such a treasure trove of information, although they have a big role in its dissemination.

"Adequate taxonomy is one of the necessary fundamental tools required for the global community to be able to implement the Millennium Development Goals and the development targets from the World Summit for Sustainable Development. Without adequate long-term investment in the human, infrastructural (including, important biological collections) and information resources necessary to underpin the science of taxonomy, the now well-recognized taxonomic impediment will continue to prevent adequate implementation of sound, scientifically-based sustainable, environmental management and development policies," Mr. Ignacio explained.

Dr. Filiberto Pollisco, Jr., coordinator of the ACB-JAIF project and programme management specialist at ACB, added that the challenge is the relative low level of awareness with policy and decision-makers and media practitioners to pay adequate attention to this mounting problem which is leading to insufficient human, financial and institutional resources.

"The level of awareness and skills must be high, particularly in the management of protected areas and critical conservation areas. The evolving problem of other environmental issues, such as climate change, land use changes, and pollution, requires constant bombardment of communication, education and public awareness (CEPA) campaigns and materials. An integrated national programme covering public awareness, skills training, research and information sharing must be developed to manage these concerns," Dr. Pollisco explained.

Rolando Inciong, head of ACB's Communication and Public Affairs, said the international meeting-workshop aims to build capacity of ASEAN Member States to address the lack of awareness on issues relating to biodiversity conservation.

"We will be introducing the role of taxonomy in biodiversity conservation to media in Southeast Asia and upgrade the participants' skills in crafting CEPA strategies which they can use in their respective countries to promote public awareness of the importance of taxonomy in the sustainable management of our biodiversity.

"The event's expected outputs are: clear understanding by the participants of the importance of taxonomy in biodiversity conservation; familiarity of the participants with the AHP Programme; upgraded skills of the participants in developing a CEPA strategy and action plan and promoting taxonomy and the ASEAN Heritage Parks; draft of CEPA strategy and action plan per country, including next steps; and a network of media practitioners who will promote taxonomy and biodiversity conservation and the AHPs," Mr. Inciong said.

Resource persons are: Rolando A. Inciong, Head, Communication and Public Affairs Unit of ACB; Dr. Filiberto Pollisco, Jr., GTI-JAIF Project Coordinator; Programme Management Specialist, ACB; Dr. Monina T. Uriarte, Capacity Building Specialist, ACB; Ms. Sahlee Barrer, Communication Consultant, ACB; Mr. Guillermo Santos, Professor of Journalism, Lyceum of the Philippines and Former Publisher, Journal Group of Companies; Ms. Olivia Sylvia Inciong, External Relations Officer for GMS, Asian Development Bank; and Prof. Rochelle Divinagracia, UPH-Surabaya.