LOS BANOS, Laguna, Aug 8 (PIA) --“ASEAN is committed to biodiversity,” ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) Executive Director Robert V. Oliva said in his Welcome Remarks during the ACB Headquarters Inauguration at the University of the Philippines Los banos, Laguna last July 29.
He said that the building inauguration is a manifestation of this pledge. The ACB Building is both a symbol of ASEAN’s commitment to biodiversity conservation and a gift of the Philippines to ASEAN and the World, he added.
He emphasized that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) pushes forward to let every ASEAN citizen know the value of biodiversity. “Be it an environmental advocate, student, diplomat, lawyer, soldier and ordinary stakeholders, we want them to be involved in biodiversity conservation,” he said.
“The prosperity of future of ASEAN depends on maintaining and preserving our rich biodiversity,” he exclaimed, continuing that as the ASEAN takes the crown as an outstanding model for regional cooperation, ACB will become a model for biodiversity conservation in the World.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu also encouraged cooperation among Filipinos for biodiversity conservation. “We are a community of resource-based economies, we need to work together to protect and conserve our biological resources,” he stated as he delivered his message in the occasion.
He gladly shared that ACB currently comprehensively undertakes initiatives to manage and sustainably use the country’s natural resources.
“The programs, projects and activities of the Centre make the ground works for sustained initiatives to strengthen capacities of far off ranges and staff for institutional capacity development,” he added.
“We need to be more decisive, more proactive and more caring to our environment as we only have one earth; no spare and no replacement,” said Secretary Cimatu.
Biodiversity for the people
“Nature for future!” was the short but powerful statement of Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN for Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC), as they were asked to encapsulize and simplify what ACB is all about and its relevance to the ordinary people during the press conference as part of the inauguration programme.
Executive Director Oliva answered the same question. “Biodiversity is about you. Biodiversity is not only about birds, beast, flowers and trees. When we take care of them, it’s not for them but for us. When we take care of nature, nature takes care of you. If we don’t take care of nature then you’re on your own,” he said.
He also explained that people must realize certain principles. One, there is nothing for free so if one cuts a tree thinking it’s free, one should rethink for it results to deforestation, he said. Everything must go somewhere, for instance, if one throws things out these go to the canals. He described the wisdom understanding of the biodiversity, natural resources, environment, food chain, animals and all things alike as “A mystical thing that all of us must discover.”
Executive Director Oliva stated that the partnership of ACB with the press, not only those from the Philippines but also from other countries, was one of their ways to reach the hearts and the minds of the common people; to encourage them to become contributors to biodiversity conservation in the ASEAN community.
The ACB headquarters shall serve as a venue for biodiversity conservation cooperations and activities. It has a library and an Auditorium that according to Executive Director Oliva were open to the public. Likewise, he said they are open for suggestions and recommendations from different sectors on improving how the ACB facilities could be better utilized.
ACB was established in 2005 to put together regional efforts towards biodiversity conservation founded on the same ASEAN principles of unity, friendship and cooperation.