France, UK seek Asean support to protect 30% of lands, oceans

Philippine News AgencySeptember 16, 2021

ASEAN SUPPORT. The virtual conference called "Better Understanding of the 30x30 Target: Protected and Conserved Area Management, organized by the French Embassy, the British Embassy, and the Asean Centre for Biodiversity. The event served as a call for all countries, particularly Asean members, to support an initiative led by France, the UK and Costa Rica for the protection of 30 percent of the Earth's lands and oceans by 2030. (Photo courtesy of the French Embassy in Manila)

MANILA – France and the United Kingdom are seeking the support of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to protect at least 30 percent of the world's terrestrial and marine habitat by 2030 amid the unprecedented rate of biodiversity loss facing the planet.

The call was made during a virtual roundtable called “Better Understanding of the 30x30 Target: Protected and Conserved Area Management,” organized jointly by the British Embassy Manila, the Embassy of France to the Philippines and to Micronesia, and the Asean Centre for Biodiversity last Sept. 9.

France, the UK and Costa Rica co-chair the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People, a 70-member intergovernmental group that push for the so-called "global 30x30 target".

The target seeks to protect at least 30 percent of the Earth’s lands and at least 30 percent of the global ocean by 2030 in order to slow the loss of habitats which threatens the existence of at least 1 million plant and animal species all over the world.

“The science-based 30x30 target is an ambitious but achievable goal. While each country is encouraged to set and work towards their own targets, the success of this initiative lies in reaching the common objective of 30 percent of protected lands and oceans by 2030 at the global level, where each country makes a contribution to the best of their resources and capacities,” French Ambassador to the Philippines Michèle Boccoz said in her statement sent by the Embassy on Thursday.

Encouraging Asean to join the HAC, Boccoz said France is willing to continue supporting Southeast Asian states in the elaboration and implementation of their respective biodiversity conservation strategy.

"In doing so, the Asean Member States would of course commit to support, with their own means, the 30x30 target, as well as be able to join a high-level think-tank to participate in discussions on how to reach this target, including the issue of increasing resource mobilization, structuring common definitions of protected areas, and building strong measurement indicators, in order to jointly design an ambitious and universal post-2020 biodiversity framework," she said.

The Asean region, composed of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, is home to one of the world’s richest and yet most threatened biodiversity hotspots.

For British Ambassador-designate to the Philippines Laure Beaufil, protecting at least 30 percent of the ocean is crucial to preserve fish populations, increase resilience to climate change, and preserve healthy marine ecosystems in the region.

“The UK, as President of the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), believes ambitious, bold and real-world commitments and actions are needed now on climate change, and nature should be at the heart of them,” she said.

Experts have cited evidence, including a 2020 report drafted by over 100 economists and scientists, to highlight how the economic benefits of protecting at least 30 percent of terrestrial and marine habitats would outweigh the financial costs, and could therefore provide benefits for both biodiversity conservation and people.

Asean, for its part, said it would support the target but cited the importance of cooperation and adequate financing to achieve the global goal.

“Protected areas and other effective area-based management measures can be effective tools to conserve and enhance both the terrestrial and marine biodiversity that underpins our resilience and survival,” ACB Executive Director Theresa Mundita Lim said.

She called for a concerted action from all governments and across all sectors in society to achieve the ambitious 30x30 target, particularly in ensuring that benefits derived from ecosystems and biodiversity, as well as nature’s contribution to people, are sustained, especially for countries that are most vulnerable. (PNA)

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