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Search for Biodiversity Champions in Southeast Asia

Laguna, Philippines — While the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region is home to 20 per cent of all known plant and animal species, it is losing biodiversity at alarming rates. Unfortunately, this threat has not attracted enough attention from leaders, the public and the media to generate a concerted effort to halt the rate of biodiversity loss. This lack of awareness is attributed to the dearth of information campaigns and materials on the values of biodiversity. To help fill this gap, the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), the ASEAN Foundation (AF), UNESCO, the ASEAN-Japan Solidarity Fund, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), and the European Union (EU), have launched the search for the ASEAN Champions of Biodiversity.

Launched at the Tenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity on Nagoya, the ASEAN Champions of Biodiversity is a recognition program for ongoing projects on biodiversity conservation and advocacy in Southeast Asia. It is aimed at generating greater leadership, public and media awareness of the problems facing the region's rich but highly threatened biodiversity and the need a concerted effort in biodiversity conservation and advocacy.

Specifically, the award seeks to: (1) Recognize ongoing projects of the private/corporate sector, media, and youth which have a clear impact on biodiversity conservation in the ASEAN region; (2) Identify leaders among the private/corporate sector, media, and youth from which a cadre of champions will be selected to serve as Ambassadors of Goodwill for biodiversity; (3) Promote awareness of the values of biodiversity among ASEAN leaders and the public in general; (4) Promote corporate social responsibility (CSR) in biodiversity conservation and advocacy; and (5) Encourage the private sector, youth, and media to participate in biodiversity conservation and advocacy. "We need action to build societies that live in harmony with nature. People can be inspired to act by the examples of champions," said Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity. "This is why we are keen supporters of the ASEAN project to find Champions of Biodiversity in South-East Asia."

During the launch, Mr. Rodrigo U. Fuentes, Executive Director of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity said, "We welcome the opportunity to partner with CBD in our search for modern-day heroes who can bring biodiversity closer to everyone, and inspire people to conserve and preserve our region’s dwindling biological resources."

Nominations are open for three categories: Most Outstanding Biodiversity Conservation and/or Advocacy Project by a Private Business/Corporation; Most Outstanding Biodiversity Conservation and/or Advocacy Project by a Youth Organization; and Most Outstanding Biodiversity Reportage by a Media Organization. The nomination form and details may be downloaded from www.aseanbiodiversity.org. Deadline for submission of nominations is on 28 February 2011.

Winners shall receive token cash prizes, and will be recognized in May 22, 2011 in time for the International Day for Biodiversity. They will also be given year-round opportunities to speak before business, youth, and media leaders. A publication of best practices will also be produced based on the stories of the finalists and winners.

For more information on the ASEAN Champions of Biodiversity, log on to www.aseanbiodiversity.org. The Secretariat may be contacted via e-mail at champions@aseanbiodiversity.org.